Warts are benign growths on the skin or mucous membranes caused by the human papilloma virus. They can vary is size and shape. Some may be flat and smooth; others may be round with a rough texture. They are usually harmless and disappear on their own.
Warts can affect anyone and can be found on any part of the body. They are particularly common in children and teenagers. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and can be easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. A person can spread them by simply touching the wart, then touching other areas of the skin. There is a balance between the virus and the individual’s immune system. Situations that reduce immunity will make it easier for the warts to spread and become more susceptible.
Verruca Vulgaris (the common wart): These are thickened bumps called papules or plaques. They have a rough surface and frequently will have small tiny spots, which are from blood vessels that have clotted. They are most commonly seen on the hands, elbows and knees.
Flat Warts: These are flat-topped, smoother looking warts. They are brown or skin-colored and are most commonly seen on the face and legs. This type of wart is easily spread by shaving.
Plantar Warts: These are seen on the under-surface of the feet tend to grow into the skin rather than coming outwards as most other warts. They are often confused with corns or calluses. They will frequently have small black dots that appear on the surface of the wart. They can sometimes be uncomfortable if they are in weight-bearing areas of the sole. Occasionally they can be quite widespread involving large surfaces.
Genital Warts: These appear in the genital and/or peri-anal skin. They have a variety of appearances. They can look like common warts or sometimes they are small skin-colored papules. They vary in size from tiny papules to much larger warty growths. Occasionally they are pigmented. They have a small chance of becoming cancerous. HPV 16 -18 subtypes have a cancerous potential, especially for the cervix. Anal carcinomas are also linked with this virus.
If you are unsure about of a wart’s appearance, consult with a dermatologist.