You may be familiar with the phrase that somebody is loved “warts and all” but have you ever stopped and wondered what warts are? Sure, we know they’re skin growths. But are they contagious? And how are they different from moles? Let’s find out.

What are warts?

Warts are small, self-limiting benign tumors that are caused by over 100 different types of the human papillomaviruses (HPV). This virus infects the top layer of skin and causes the growth.

What are symptoms and signs of different types of warts?

Warts are classified by where they’re found on the body and how they look.

Common warts: They grow most often on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands. Most often they feel like rough bumps and they can have little black dots that look like seeds. They’re most common where skin was broken, such as from biting or picking at hangnails.

Plantar warts: Also known as foot warts, they most often grow on the soles of the feet, grow inward, in clusters, have black dots, and can feel like having pebbles in your shoe.

Flat warts: Flat warts can occur anywhere. They tend to grow in large numbers – 20 to 100 at a time and are smaller and smoother than other warts. Flat warts are typically seen on the face of children, the beard area of men, and the legs of women.

Filiform warts: Filiform warts often grow on the face: around the mouth, eyes, and nose. They grow quickly and look like long threads or thin fingers that stick out.

Are warts contagious?

Yes. Warts are contagious. If you have a wart, you can spread the HPV virus to other places on your body or to other people. Warts can be spread by contact with a wart, or something that has touched the wart.

Transmission and infection does not happen every time a wart is touched, but it’s possible. This is true for all warts, including genital warts.

Will warts go away on their own?

Warts typically disappear spontaneously but it may take years.

Can HPV be treated or cured?

There is no cure for the HPV virus, but there are several things you can do to help your body clear the virus, and lower your chances of it persisting and turning into cancer.

Studies indicate that 50% of people clear HPV from their system within eight months, and 90% within two years. Taking certain vitamins can help to boost the immune system. Studies also show that adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet and/or supplementing with them can also help your body clear HPV.

Are genital warts a special type of wart?

Genital warts are distinctive from other kinds of warts because they are transmitted sexually. It’s estimated that over 75% of active sexual adults have had HPV at one point in their life. Most don’t present with symptoms. Using a condom doesn’t offer full protection. The only way to guarantee not contracting genital warts is to abstain from sex.

HPV can increase a woman’s risk for cancer of the cervix and increases the risk of prostate cancer in men.

How are warts different from moles?

Warts and moles share some commonality since they are both blemishes on the skin. But that’s where the similarities end.

Moles are created by a concentration of pigment cells. Warts are caused by the HPV virus. Moles aren’t contagious but can be diagnosed as melanoma. Warts are contagious and while they can be treated, there is no cure for HPV.

Do warts need to be treated?

Warts often go away without treatment. You should see a dermatologist if the warts don’t go away, the wart(s) hurt, if you have many warts, or if you’re a diabetic with foot warts.

You should also seek treatment from a dermatologist for warts on the face or genitals.

Are there treatments that can be done at home?

We do not recommend treating genital warts at home. However, other warts have be treated with over-the-counter medication.

Salicylic acid preparations are available as drops, gels, pads, and plasters. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic medication, which means it dissolves skin protein (keratin), which makes up most of the mass of the wart and the thick layer of dead skin that often surmounts it.

There are non-prescription freezing methods but they do not work as well as liquid nitrogen used by dermatologists.

Duct tape is also a popular remedy but there’s no evidence to show that this is anything other than placebo.

Do warts come back?

As long as you are infected with HPV it’s possible to have a reoccurrence of warts. The infection period can last months to years, and even for life.

If you have warts that need a dermatologist’s attention, contact Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology. Our licensed dermatologists are skilled in diagnosing and providing relief for warts. Call us at (910) 794-5355 or Request a Appointment with our online form. We have offices in Wilmington, Hampstead, and Supply to serve you!

You may be familiar with the phrase that somebody is loved “warts and all” but have you ever stopped and wondered what warts are? Sure, we know they’re skin growths. But are they contagious? And how are they different from moles? Let’s find out.

What are warts?

Warts are small, self-limiting benign tumors that are caused by over 100 different types of the human papillomaviruses (HPV). This virus infects the top layer of skin and causes the growth.

What are symptoms and signs of different types of warts?

Warts are classified by where they’re found on the body and how they look.

Common warts: They grow most often on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands. Most often they feel like rough bumps and they can have little black dots that look like seeds. They’re most common where skin was broken, such as from biting or picking at hangnails.

Plantar warts: Also known as foot warts, they most often grow on the soles of the feet, grow inward, in clusters, have black dots, and can feel like having pebbles in your shoe.

Flat warts: Flat warts can occur anywhere. They tend to grow in large numbers – 20 to 100 at a time and are smaller and smoother than other warts. Flat warts are typically seen on the face of children, the beard area of men, and the legs of women.

Filiform warts: Filiform warts often grow on the face: around the mouth, eyes, and nose. They grow quickly and look like long threads or thin fingers that stick out.

Are warts contagious?

Yes. Warts are contagious. If you have a wart, you can spread the HPV virus to other places on your body or to other people. Warts can be spread by contact with a wart, or something that has touched the wart.

Transmission and infection does not happen every time a wart is touched, but it’s possible. This is true for all warts, including genital warts.

Will warts go away on their own?

Warts typically disappear spontaneously but it may take years.

Can HPV be treated or cured?

There is no cure for the HPV virus, but there are several things you can do to help your body clear the virus, and lower your chances of it persisting and turning into cancer.

Studies indicate that 50% of people clear HPV from their system within eight months, and 90% within two years. Taking certain vitamins can help to boost the immune system. Studies also show that adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet and/or supplementing with them can also help your body clear HPV.

Are genital warts a special type of wart?

Genital warts are distinctive from other kinds of warts because they are transmitted sexually. It’s estimated that over 75% of active sexual adults have had HPV at one point in their life. Most don’t present with symptoms. Using a condom doesn’t offer full protection. The only way to guarantee not contracting genital warts is to abstain from sex.

HPV can increase a woman’s risk for cancer of the cervix and increases the risk of prostate cancer in men.

How are warts different from moles?

Warts and moles share some commonality since they are both blemishes on the skin. But that’s where the similarities end.

Moles are created by a concentration of pigment cells. Warts are caused by the HPV virus. Moles aren’t contagious but can be diagnosed as melanoma. Warts are contagious and while they can be treated, there is no cure for HPV.

Do warts need to be treated?

Warts often go away without treatment. You should see a dermatologist if the warts don’t go away, the wart(s) hurt, if you have many warts, or if you’re a diabetic with foot warts.

You should also seek treatment from a dermatologist for warts on the face or genitals.

Are there treatments that can be done at home?

We do not recommend treating genital warts at home. However, other warts have be treated with over-the-counter medication.

Salicylic acid preparations are available as drops, gels, pads, and plasters. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic medication, which means it dissolves skin protein (keratin), which makes up most of the mass of the wart and the thick layer of dead skin that often surmounts it.

There are non-prescription freezing methods but they do not work as well as liquid nitrogen used by dermatologists.

Duct tape is also a popular remedy but there’s no evidence to show that this is anything other than placebo.

Do warts come back?

As long as you are infected with HPV it’s possible to have a reoccurrence of warts. The infection period can last months to years, and even for life.

If you have warts that need a dermatologist’s attention, contact Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology. Our licensed dermatologists are skilled in diagnosing and providing relief for warts. Call us at (910) 794-5355 or Request a Appointment with our online form. We have offices in Wilmington, Hampstead, and Supply to serve you!

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