Warts, those little fleshy bumps on your skin, are typically considered a cosmetic issue, as they don’t cause any serious medical concerns. Sure, you may have a wart that itches a bit or feels a little tight and uncomfortable, but there’s usually no pain involved, unless you count the mental and emotional stress of the visible growth — which is a valid complaint.
Many warts will eventually disappear on their own, especially on children, but it may take years. If you don’t want to wait that long, Dr. Robert Topham at Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics can treat your warts and speed up the process. Of course, the treatment that’s best for you depends on which type of wart you have.
Here’s a guide to the various types of warts.
If you have a wart on your fingers, hands, or toes, it’s likely a common wart. These are raised, fleshy growths that show up in places where you’ve had a break in the skin. If you bite your nails, pull a hangnail, or stub your toe, those breaches open the door to the human papillomavirus (HPV) — the cause of all warts.
Common warts can be very small, about the size of a pinhead, or as large as a pea. They are usually the same color as your flesh. If you see tiny black dots in your common wart, it means that blood vessels within it have died.
Children tend to get flat warts more frequently than adults, which is how they earned the nickname “juvenile warts.” As their name suggests, they are flat in appearance, but they also have the following distinguishing characteristics:
- Small in size, but come in clusters
- Round or oval shaped
- May be brown, yellow, or pink
You'll usually find flat warts on the back of the hand or on the face or legs. Like common warts, they often begin at the site of a small cut, such as those that occur when shaving your legs or face.
Warts that appear on the soles of your feet are called plantar warts, and they can be quite painful. At first glance, you may not recognize them as warts because they appear more like a thickened patch of skin that resembles a callus.
Mosaic warts also affect your toes and the ball of your foot, but they look slightly different than the garden variety plantar wart. Mosaic warts tend to cluster, and appear flatter and more pale.
Like common warts, plantar warts may develop tiny black dots indicating dead blood vessels within.
No body part is safe from HPV, not even the underside of your nails. Periungual warts start around the edges of your fingernails or toenails then work their way under the nail. They are rough, bumpy growths of flesh that may appear dirty. The virus enters through cuts and scrapes, then sets up shop in and around your cuticles.
Periungual warts are hard to get rid of because they often hide under your nail.
It’s easy to mistake a filiform wart for a skin tag, because they look very similar. Filiform warts are small spikes of flesh that jut out from the surface of your skin. They typically appear around the eyes, mouth, and nose where there’s a lot of moisture.
Although they’re only about 1-2 millimeters long and harmless, their location on the face makes many people seek treatment for removal.
Caused by one of the 40 known strains of HPV, genital warts are a common type of sexually transmitted infection. These warts appear on a woman’s vulva, cervix, urethra, and vaginal walls and on a man’s penis and scrotum. They can also occur in or around the anus of either sex. They often feel itchy and sometimes painful.
Getting rid of warts
If your wart isn’t going away, there are treatments available to speed up the process. Depending on which type of wart you have and where it’s located, we may use:
- Topical cream: gradually hardens and removes the wart
- Cantharidin: a chemical that causes the wart to blister
- Cryotherapy: freezes the wart off
- Curettage: scrapes the wart off
- Excision: cuts the wart out
- Laser treatment: destroys the wart
If you have a wart you’d like to get rid of, visit our office in Holladay, Utah, and Dr. Topham can help. Call us at 801-272-4408 to schedule an appointment, and your wart could be gone by summertime.