Warts are overgrowths of skin tissue caused by viruses. They sometimes
go away on their own, but they may stay the same, spread, or become
types are there?
Warts are classified according to their appearance and location.
PLANTAR WARTS: These are on the sole of the foot ("plantar"
surface of the foot from which the wart gets its name). The callus
that usually covers the wart makes it tender-- especially when walking.
Sometimes the center of the wart has tiny black and red "dots".
These are tiny, clotted blood vessels.
FLAT WARTS: These are usually on the face, neck, forearms, hands,
or fingers and are flesh-colored or tan, small and flat.
COMMON WARTS: These are usually raised (with or without visible
"black and red dots") and can be anywhere. They are called
common warts when another name is not more descriptive.
VENEREAL WARTS: These can be flat or raised fleshy growths and are
located in the genital or anal area. These warts are commonly spread
by sexual contact. Health care personnel should treat venereal warts.
(For more information see Student Health handout on venereal/genital
are wart symptoms?
Usually, one notices a bump containing red or black dots. Although
plantar warts are sometimes painful when pressure is applied to
the bottom of the foot, most warts do not hurt. Warts are of no
danger unless they become infected. Most people have them treated
for cosmetic reasons.
are they treated?
Wart treatment depends upon the wart's location, its size, an individual's
previous response to wart treatment, availability and cost of treatment,
patient preference, side effects, and the time available to complete
treatment. Treatment will generally be continued until the warts
disappear. Forms of treatment include:
LIQUID NITROGEN: Nitrogen is a liquid at -195.6 degrees C. The clinician
applies liquid nitrogen with a cotton- tipped applicator to the
wart. The wart initially turns white and then resumes its normal
skin color. Because of the intense cold, one may feel a burning
sensation where treated. This area may blister (clear or a "blood
blister"). Usually, it is necessary to repeat the treatment
every 1-2 weeks.
"ACID PAINTS": These usually contain lactic, acetic, and
salicylic acids. Medical practitioners believe that acid paints
damage wart cells, causing the wart to go away. Your physician or
nurse practitioner will explain how to use the paint.
PODOPHYLLIN: (25% resin in tincture of benzoin): This is used mainly
for treating venereal warts. A clinician applies podophyllin with
a cotton-tipped applicator. The podophyllin should be rinsed off
if it begins to burn or at a time indicated by your health care
provider. As the treatment progresses, the length of time that the
podophyllin can be tolerated increases. (Leave it on no longer than
NON-PRESCRIPTION PREPARATIONS: These usually contain salicylic and
acetic acids. They are relatively inexpensive and painless to use,
but are generally less effective than office treatments. Follow
the manufacturer's instructions. Do not use for venereal warts.
health care personnel:
- for venereal warts.
- if you have any doubts about whether what you think is a wart
is indeed a wart.
- if your warts don't respond to nonprescription medicine.
- anytime you are unsure of what to do.
to Common Ailments page
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