They say if you are looking for Prince Charming, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. So, don’t let fear of warts get in the way of finding true happiness. In fact, kiss all the frogs – and toads – you want! That’s because warts are actually caused by viruses such as the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that get into your body and cause an infection in the outer layer of skin. When the virus invades this layer of skin, usually through a tiny scratch, it causes rapid growth of cells and, voila! A wart is born.
You don’t find warts, they find you
The wart virus is pesky and clever: not only can you catch the virus through direct skin to skin contact, for instance, if you are holding hands with Prince Charming and he happens to have a wart on his hand; you can also get the virus from contact with inanimate objects, such as the glass slipper that every girl in town tried on.
HPV is more likely to cause warts when there is contact with skin that is damaged or cut. Getting a small scrape or biting fingernails may bring on a wart. The same holds true if you nick or cut yourself by shaving. A type of small, smooth, flattened, flesh-colored wart known as flat wart can occur in large numbers; most common on the face, neck, hands, wrists, and knees. Filiform or digitate wart, a thread- or finger-like wart, is most commonly found on the face, especially near the eyelids and lips. Genital warts occur on the genitalia.
Warts Run in the Family
Children get warts much more often than adults, most likely because their immune systems have not yet built a strong defense against the numerous strains of HPV that they will encounter over their lifetimes. Children – especially siblings – tend to share everything, from towels and shoes to the same bathrooms, thereby allowing the virus that causes warts to thrive. Also, some people may be more genetically predisposed to getting warts than others, especially if their immune systems have been weakened or compromised.
To be sure, warts are sneaky creatures that like to play hide and seek. Check the soles of your feet, and you may find that you have plantar warts. Like other warts, the HPV that causes plantar warts is opportunistic and thrives in areas like communal showers, gym mats, and locker rooms. These warts got their name because “plantar” means “of the sole” in Latin. But, unlike other warts, the pressure from walking and standing makes them grow into your skin. You may have one or a cluster. Because they’re flat, tough, and thick, it’s easy to confuse them with calluses.
Wart, Be Gone!
Most warts are harmless and many people try to let them run their course by using over-the-counter treatments such as salicylic acid or covering the wart up with duct tape. Waiting for warts to go away could backfire, however, as the wart might continue to grow, new warts may appear, or you could give them to someone else.
If you’re not sure your skin growth is a wart (some skin cancers look like them), it doesn’t get better with home treatment, it hurts, or you have a lot of them, check with your doctor. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you should see the doctor before you treat a wart yourself.
Dr. Ana M. Duarte and her staff the Children’s Skin Center know a thing or two about treating warts and look forward to welcoming you to their practice. To schedule your appointment, call (305) 669-6555 or use the secure online appointment request form.