What are Warts?

A wart is a virus that occurs on the surface of the skin through contact with the virus. The contact can occur on a door knob, a dirty pencil, your shopping cart, money, even on the sidewalk.

The virus lives in the surface of the dead layers of your skin and that’s where it proliferates. So the virus can be spread in the skin, around the surrounding wart, even though there is no actual wart growth that you can visualize. That’s why treating them is sometimes complicated.

The different types of warts are common warts, flat warts, plantar warts on the bottom of the foot, and also in that category we also treat Condyloma and Molluscum.

Common warts are the ones people are most familiar with. They look like cauliflower. They can look dry, white, flaky. They can appear anywhere on the body. The typical locations are the fingernails, elbows, knees, even toes.

Flat warts generally are a flat, dry skin. They look a little white. They generally occur on the faces of children. They can be on the legs of women. They are easily spread through shaving.

Plantar warts occur on our feet. They generally from the pressure of walking grow inward instead of outward like the common wart. They can be a little more complicated to treat because the skin is so thick on the bottom of the foot.

Also in that category is Molluscum Contagiosum. Molluscum can look like a small hard pimple. They generally occur in clusters. They can be in the buttocks. They can be on the elbows, in the armpits. They are spread through scratching because they do itch. It’s common for children to even have them on their face.

Condyloma is also a disease we treat in dermatology. It is a soft, wart-like growth that sometimes is mistaken for a skin tag. They can occur in the inner thighs, the pubic region, and the buttocks.

We have many treatments for warts in dermatology. As providers, we try to take into account the patient’s age and their pain tolerance. Some of the treatments can be painful. The over-the-counter preparations for wart treatment generally fail, and that’s generally what brings our patients to us in dermatology. We have a topical called Cantharidin that is from the blistering beetle. We have one called Podophyllin. We also use Salicylic acid. We can also do freezing with liquid nitrogen, which is the most common thing patients are familiar with, and then we can also do removal through numbing up the wart and removing the wart physically.

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