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.
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.
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).