Warts are small, raised growths that appear on your hands, feet, and other places on the body. They’re caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are benign. Since there are more than 100 types of HPV, warts vary in appearance based on the type of HPV that caused the growth. While most warts will go away on their own, some require medical treatment because their location is causing embarrassment, discomfort, or pain.
Dermatologist and phlebologist Clement Banda, MD, RPhS, of MD Vein & Skin Specialists in Columbia, Maryland, specializes in identifying and treating warts. Dr. Banda has the expertise necessary to identify the type of wart you have and administer the treatment most appropriate for its size, type, and location. With wart removal, you won’t have to worry about spreading a wart from one part of your body to another or to someone else.
Warts are identified by where they grow on the body and what they look like. Dr. Banda shares more about the most common types of warts and the effective techniques we administer to resolve them.
Common warts often grow on the backs of your hands as well as on the fingers, toes, knees, and around your nails. They usually occur where the skin was broken, as from biting fingernails, picking at hangnails, or where the skin was cut or scraped. Most common warts are not only unattractive, but they can also bleed or cause pain.
Filiform warts are sometimes called facial warts. These fast-growing warts often grow on the face around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Filiform warts may cause itching or bleeding, but they usually react to over-the-counter medications. These warts resemble long threads or thin fingers that stick out.
Flat (plane) warts
Flat (plane) warts appear on your forehead, eyelids, face, or neck as flesh-colored or white bumps with a flat top. Children usually get them on their faces. Men tend to get them on their beard area, while women usually get them on their legs. Flat (plane) warts usually occur in multiples.
Genital warts appear as flat lesions, tiny stemlike protrusions, or small bumps. In women, genital warts occur around the genital area, usually on the vulva, though they can also appear near the anus, in the vagina, or on the cervix. Men usually get genital warts on the scrotum or penis or around the anus. Genital warts can itch but they usually don’t cause pain. Genital warts are not just a nuisance, they’re a precursor for cancer. These, therefore, have to be treated to mitigate the risk.
Plantar and palmar warts
Plantar warts occur as hard, grainy growth on the balls or heels of your feet. Because of their location, plantar warts can cause pain because you’re constantly applying pressure to them when you walk or stand. These warts can develop in clusters, called mosaic warts.
Palmar warts occur on the palms of your hand. Both plantar and palmar warts can have black dots from the clotted blood vessels that once fed them.
Subungual and periungual warts
Subungual warts and periungual warts grow around and under the toenails and fingernails. They appear as rough growths with irregular bumps and uneven borders. They can affect nail growth and may be painful.
You should seek medical attention for genital warts and any wart that causes pain or changes color or appearance. While most warts disappear on their own, the treatment appropriate for your wart depends on how long it’s been on your skin, along with its location, type, and severity.
Wart treatments essentially damage the wart so that it can’t survive. Depending on the treatment used, it can take several weeks for the wart to die and fall off.
After an examination of your wart, Dr. Banda may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Salicylic acid preparations that work by dissolving the keratin that composes the wart, along with with the protein that’s included in the thick layer of skin that covers most warts
- Cryotherapy, which uses nitrous oxide or liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart so you can scrape it off
- Electrosurgery, which kills the wart tissue by sending an electric current through the growth
- Laser surgery, which heats up the wart until the tissue dies and the wart falls off
- Prescription creams, such as imiquimod, which work to kill the wart over time
- Nonprescription aerosol sprays that consist of dimethyl ether and work by freezing the wart and allowing it to die
You don’t have to suffer with persistent ugly warts. Schedule an appointment online or call our office for a personal consultation to discuss your treatment options.