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Health Condition

Warts

About This Condition

Warts are common abnormal skin growths caused by one of many types of human papilloma virus, which infects the outer layer of skin.

Common warts (verruca vulgaris) can appear on any part of the body but are more common on the fingers, hands, and arms. They are most common in people 30 years old or younger, but can occur at any age and are almost universal in the population. Other types of warts also exist, including flat warts, genital warts, laryngeal papillomas, and others.

Symptoms

Appearance and size of warts depend on the location and the amount of irritation and trauma. Common warts are sharply demarcated, rough-surfaced, round or irregular in shape, firm, and either light gray, yellow, brown, or gray-black in color. They are small nodules ranging in size from 2–10 mm in diameter. Plantar warts (on the bottoms of the feet) are flattened and may be exquisitely tender. Flat warts, more common in children and young adults, are smooth, flat-topped yellow-brown elevations, most often seen on the face and along scratch marks. Genital warts (also called condyloma acuminata or venereal warts) are soft, moist, small pink or gray polyps that enlarge and are usually found in clusters on the anus and the warmer, moister areas of the female and male genitalia. Genital warts caused by HPV are considered a major cause of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. All warts are contagious.

Other Therapies

A protective pad may be worn to relieve the pain of plantar warts. In some cases, doctors may recommend removal of the wart using various procedures such as freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), conventional surgery, laser surgery, or applying an electrical current to dry the wart (electrodesiccation with curettage).

References

1. Silverberg N. Garlic cloves for verruca vulgaris. Pediatr Dermatol 2002;19:183. [Letter]

2. Dehghani F, Merat A, Panjehshahin MR, Handjani F. Healing effect of garlic extract on warts and corns. Int J Dermatol2005;44:612-5.

3. Al-Gurairi FT, Al-Waiz M, Sharquie KE. Oral zinc sulphate in the treatment of recalcitrant viral warts: randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Br J Dermatol 2002;146:423-31.

4. Yaghoobi R, Sadighha A, Baktash D. Evaluation of oral zinc sulfate effect on recalcitrant multiple viral warts: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:706-8.

5. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 337.

6. Harkness EF, Abbot NC, Ernst E. A randomized trial of distant healing for skin warts. Am J Med 2000;108:448-52.

7. Stern P, Levine N. Controlled localized heat therapy in cutaneous warts. Archives of Dermatology 1992;128:945-8.

8. Spanes NP, Williams V, Gwynn MI. Effects of hypnotic, placebo, and salicylic acid treatments on wart progression. Psychosom Med 1990;52:109-14.

9. Bairati I, Sherman KJ, McKnight B, et al. Diet and genital warts: a case-control study. Sex Transm Dis 1994;21:149-54.

10. Schneider A, Morabia A, Papendick U, Kirchmayr R. Pork intake and human papillomavirus-related disease. Nutr Cancer 1990;13:209-11.

11. Feldman JG, Chirgwin K, Dehovitz JA, Minkoff H. The association of smoking and risk of condyloma acuminatum in women. Ostet Gynecol 1997;89:346-50.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

Drugs used to treat WARTS. Select drug name to view medication information and pricing