Warts - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Warts are small raised, bumpy, grainy skin growths that occur mostly in the hands. However, they can arise anywhere on the body. Ones that occur in the genital region are called genital warts, which raise the chances of cervical cancer. They occur due to a virus called human papillomavirus. Warts are not painful or cause bothering symptoms, but they may lead to embarrassment and cosmetic concerns. Moreover, they are contagious- means spread through touch. Therefore, you should restrict touching and scratching them. A wart may take two to six months to develop on your skin after you have been exposed to the virus. 


Causes 


The main cause of warts is the virus known as the human papillomavirus. It has more than 150 strains. However, not all of them cause warts. Getting exposed to it can cause warts because it is contagious. Some types of human papillomaviruses spread through sexual contact, whereas, others spread through sharing of personal items like towels, brushes, and cosmetics. It may also spread through broken skin and nail-biting. However, exposure to it does not guarantee the development of wart because every person’s immune system acts differently. 


Types 


There are different types of warts which can be classified as;


Common warts


Common warts are the ones that appear on hands and fingers. They may have the following characteristics;


  • Small

  • Fleshy 

  • Grainy bumps

  • Flesh-colored, white, pink, or tan

  • Rough to the touch

  • Sprinkled with black small pinpoint that is clotted blood vessels 


Plantar warts


Plantar warts appear on the feet. They do not protrude out of the skin. Instead, they grow inside it and are surrounded by thick skin. They can hinder your walking. 


Flat warts 


They are the ones that develop on the face, arm, and thigh. They are quite small and not easy to notice, having a pink, slightly yellow, or brownish color. 


Filiform warts 


Filiform warts appear on the face, near the mouth, on the nose, near the chin or neck. They have the same colour, that of skin. 


Periungual warts 


This type of wart grows under your toenails or fingernails. They can become painful and may also affect nail growth.  


Risk factors 


People who have a weakened immune system are at risk of developing warts upon exposure. The immune system may be weakened due to any of the following reasons. 


  • Malignancies and chemotherapy for their treatment

  • Having a disease that lowers immunity like AIDS

  • Children because their immune system is not well developed as compared to adults

  • Having a recent organ transplant

  • Taking immunosuppressants for a long time like prednisolone or azathioprine. 


A person may need to take corticosteroids for various reasons like asthma and inflammation, which however does lower your immunity. Therefore, when you take it, avoid going to crowded places and getting exposed to infected people. 



Prevention 


Avoid direct exposure with warts. It includes your own too. Do not touch them repeatedly.


Do not scratch or pick your warts. Doing that spreads them from one person to another. 


Do not use the same nail clipper for diseased and healthy nails. Keep separate ones for both. When you use the same nail clipper for both, the diseased one can easily infect the healthy ones too. Therefore you need to be cautious about it. 


Do not bite your nails because the breakage of the skin can become an entrance for a virus.


Maintain hygiene. Groom your hands and nails carefully. Avoid clipping or shaving the areas having warts. 


After getting exposed to it, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. 


Conclusion  


Warts are small raised, bumpy, grainy skin growths that occur mostly in the hands. However, they can arise anywhere on the body. Ones that occur in the genital region are called genital warts, which raise the chances of cervical cancer. They occur due to a virus called human papillomavirus. Warts are not painful or cause bothering symptoms, but they may lead to embarrassment and low self-esteem. Moreover, they are contagious- means spread through touch.


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