Warts

Warts are caused by various types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which are DNA Viruses measuring about 50nm in diameter and are members of the family papovaridae.

Causes

Warts occur when the virus comes in contact with your skin and causes an infection. Warts are more likely to develop on broken skin, such as picked hangnails or areas nicked by shaving, because the virus is able to enter the top layer of skin through scratches or cuts.

Symptoms

There are several different types of warts which all vary in size and shape. For example, warts can range from 1mm to more than 10mm (1cm) in diameter.

The different types of warts are described below.

  1. Common warts

If you have a common wart it will:

be round or oval shaped

be firm and raised

have a rough, irregular surface similar to a cauliflower

often develop on the knuckles, fingers and knees

vary in size from less than 1mm to more than 10mm (1cm) in diameter

You may develop one common wart or several.

common warts

  1. Plantar warts

Verrucas usually develop on the soles of your feet. The affected area of skin will:

be white, often with a black dot in the centre (blood vessel)

be flat rather than raised

sometimes be painful because your body weight can force the verruca to grow back into your skin.

Plantar warts

  1. Flat  warts

It is possible to have between one and several hundred plane warts, which can develop in clusters. They are usually:

a yellowish colour

smooth, round and flat-topped

2-4mm in diameter

common in young children, mainly affecting the hands, face and legs

Plane warts can also sometimes develop on the lower legs of females because the human papilloma virus (HPV) can be spread through shaving.

Flat warts

  1. Filiform warts

Filiform warts are long and slender in appearance and often develop on the neck, face and nostrils.

Filiform and Digitate warts

  1. Periungual warts

Periungual warts develop under and around the fingernails and toenails. They:

have a rough surface

can affect the shape of your nail

can be painful

Periungual warts

  1. Mosaic warts

Mosaic warts grow in clusters and form a ‘tile-like’ pattern. They often develop on the palms of the hands and on the feet.

Mosaic warts

Diagnosis

In rare cases,  may need to perform a skin biopsy to be certain.

Prevention

Though skin warts can’t be prevented, there are a number of precautionary measures you can take to minimize your risk of acquiring warts. One of the most important things you can do is to wash your hands regularly. Also, try to keep your skin healthy, moisturized, and free of cuts. If you bite your fingernails or cuticles, do your best to stop. Biting nails creates an opening for virus to enter your skin. Be careful to use clean, fresh towels at the gym or in other public locations, and always wear rubber-soled flip-flops or sandals in public locker rooms and showers.

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