What Causes Warts and How to Get Rid of Them

Warts are raised, noncancerous growths that develop in the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. They’re caused by an infection with some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are classified by where they’re located on the body. And while they’re not usually dangerous, they’re aesthetically displeasing, can be painful, and can also be contagious.

At Dermatology Associates of Central NJ, with locations in Old Bridge, Freehold, and Union, Dr. Santiago Centurion, Dr. Maria Joyce Bernabe, and their team understand how uncomfortable warts can be. That’s why they offer various effective treatments to remove both the wart and the virus that caused it. Here’s what they want you to know about the problem and the options available for solving it.

Types of warts

There are five major types of warts, each appearing on a different part of the body and having a distinct appearance.

1. Common warts

While usually appearing on your fingers and toes, common warts can grow on other parts of the body too. They appear rough and grainy, with a rounded top, and are more gray than the skin around them.

2. Plantar warts

Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet, and, different from other types of warts, they grow into, not out of, your skin. They appear as small holes on the sole of your foot surrounded by hardened skin, and they can make walking painful. They’re often skin-colored, but they can contain small black dots from burst blood vessels.

3. Flat warts

Flat warts are usually found on the face, arms, and thighs. They’re small and aren’t as noticeable as other types of warts. They have a flat top, almost as if they’ve been scraped, and they may appear pink, brownish, or slightly yellow.

4. Filiform warts

Filiform warts usually appear on the face and sometimes on the neck or under the chin. They're different from other warts because they're small and appear similar to skin tags. They’re usually the same color as your skin.

5. Periungual warts

Periungual warts grow under and around both the fingernails and toenails. Initially, they’re pin-sized and translucent, but they can become darker and larger, multiplying as they grow. They can be painful and affect nail growth. They’re also more likely to occur if you bite your nails.

Genital warts are different from the five major types. The HPV strains that cause warts on, in, and around a woman’s genitals are not the harmless strains that cause the others. These may eventually lead to cervical cancer, which is potentially fatal. If you believe you have been exposed to genital warts, or if you know you have them, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Wart treatments

Many warts will clear up by themselves, but if you’re experiencing pain or irritation, or if they make you self-conscious, you may want to have them removed.

DIY treatments

There are several home remedies for wart removal if you’re willing to wait a few months to see results. The first is duct tape placed over the wart for six days, which you then remove and debride the skin with an emery board. Keep repeating the process until you get results. Another is rubbing the wart with the inside of a banana peel, then debriding.

A third possibility is an OTC freezing spray that kills the wart tissue; it works about 50% of the time.

If you’re going the DIY route, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Warts are contagious: if you debride with an emery board or pumice stone, don’t use it on any other part of your body or let others use it
  2. Don’t treat plantar warts if you have diabetes: you can easily injure yourself without realizing it due to loss of sensation
  3. Don’t try to remove warts on your face or other sensitive parts of your body like your mouth, nostrils, or genitals

In-office treatments

At Dermatology Associates of Central NJ, we offer several different wart treatment options:

If none of these methods prove effective, your doctor may recommend excision or surgical removal of the wart and some surrounding tissue.

Are you bothered by warts on any part of your body? We can take care of that for you. Call Dermatology Associates of Central NJ at any of our locations, or book your appointment online today.

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