As a teen, the author suffered from verrucas and common warts and has trialed many treatments. She now battles with flat warts on her feet.
What Are Warts?
Warts are simply benign skin growths caused by the extremely common human papillomavirus (HPV). Common warts on hands and feet are caused by HPV types 1, 2, 4, 27 and 57.
The HPV virus causes irregular skin growth to occur. It is the keratin, which is a hard protein, which forms the hard, crusty, outer layer that we typically associate with a wart.
There are many different strains of the virus which consequently gives rise to the varying forms of warts, as shown in the pictures below.
Most people experience warts or verrucas at some time or other in their life. It is nothing to be concerned or alarmed about.However, the sooner treatment is started, the less likelihood there is of the warts spreading to other parts of the body.
Despite being unsightly and embarrassing, most HPV infections are non-cancerous and fairly harmless. However, particular care should be taken with genital warts as these can give rise to cervical cancer in women.
The wart virus is also extremely contagious. Simply touching the wart can release the virus which can then go on to infect others.
It is also not advisable to scratch or bite warts as this can cause them to bleed and break up, which makes them even more contagious.
Common warts are typically found on the hands and fingers and are raised, almost cauliflower like, in appearance.The common wart is flesh colored and rough to the touch.
The wart often looks as if it has little red dots in it. These are simply blood spots produced by the blood vessel which is feeding the infected area. The HPV virus can be transmitted by sharing a damp hand towel with an infected person or from skin to skin contact.
Warts on the hand can spread rapidly, especially if the infected person habitually bites their finger nails or chews on the ends of their fingers. This is why common warts are frequently found in locations where the skin has been broken.
Never be tempted to touch someone else's wart. Don't scratch or pick at your warts as this is the easiest way to spread them. Also, it is advisable to always wear gloves when using shared equipment to prevent catching and transmitting warts.
The wart plasters are extremely versatile as, not only do they help get rid of warts, but they also cover them up, which helps you to feel less conscious about them. Furthermore, it will deter you from picking at them and also prevent the, spreading to other parts of your body, as well as to anyone with whom you come into contact.
Flat warts are typically found on areas that are regularly shaved such as the male face and female legs. Flat warts are the smallest wart variety and are smooth and flat, just as the name suggests. Often flesh colored, flat warts are found in clusters and can be extremely unsightly.
Flat warts are usually caused by the HPV virus types 3, 10, 28 and 49. Unfortunately, they are difficult to treat and tend to last longer than common warts. They are usually pain-free but may have a tendency to itch. Due to the fact that you can get a lot of flat warts, all concentrated together in one location, they can be distressing. It is the cosmetic implications that drive people to want to get rid of flat warts, as soon as possible.
If want to treat flat warts on your face, then you should seek medical advice. If you try treating yourself, with over-the-counter products containing salicylic acid, you may end up with permanent scarring. For the same reason, you should also not try home 'freezing' wart treatments.
Filiform Warts or Facial Warts
Filiform warts are particularly distressing as they occur on the face, either individually or in clusters. They typically appear around the eyelids (as shown below), neck or lips. However, it should be noted that they can occur on any part of the face or neck. Filiform warts are also known as facial warts, for obvious reasons, although they can also appear on the neck.
Filiform warts are normally benign and tend to be long, almost brush like in nature, protruding from the face. The warts may have a tendency to bleed and itch and this can lead to the spreading of the warts. The warts may become sore if they are repeatedly scratched or bumped
Due to the sensitive location of filiform warts, you should always seek medical attention. If you try to remove them with over the counter treatments you may leave yourself with permanent scars.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) can also infect the tongue and other epithelial surfaces including the throat, mouth and tonsils. Occurring in clusters, these small blisters burst and spread easily, especially, if accidentally bitten. Tongue warts can naturally make eating an extremely painful process.
If left alone, oral warts tend to disappear of their own accord, over a period of time. There are treatments which can be administered by a medical professional, such as freezing, injecting the warts or laser treatment. Do not try to treat oral warts yourself. You should also be mindful not to transmit the warts to your partner.
The plantar wart is commonly referred to as a verruca and typically appears on the soles of the feet (as shown below).
Unlike warts on other parts of the body, plantar warts tend to bury deep into the skin as opposed to being raised. Nonetheless, they can cause extreme discomfort when walking or running. You may also find that they itch when they are found on the feet.
You normally get infected with the wart virus when walking on wet or damp surfaces. Communal showers and swimming pools being the most likely source of infection. Infection typically occurs from moist walking surfaces such as showers or swimming pools. The virus can survive many months without a host, making it highly contagious.
How to Protect Your Feet From Verrucas
Verruca's are highly contagious and care should be taken when when bare foot activities are taken, particularly swimming. If at all possible, suitable footwear should be worn, such as flip-flops, which can be left at the side of the pool. Alternatively, you can purchase swim socks or shoes which are specifically designed for use in the water.
If you do have a verruca then you should take reasonable steps to prevent it from infecting others. If you are participating in activities where your foot is likely to be exposed, such as showering, swimming or other physical activity then, at the very least, please cover your wart with a waterproof plaster and preferably, also use a swim sock. Also, never share towels!
Wart Treatments at Home
There are many home remedies available which can effectively treat the most common types of warts on hands and feet.
However, you should NEVER attempt to treat warts on sensitive areas such as the face, tongue or genitals. Always seek professional medical advice for these sensitive locations.
Before deciding on the correct type of home wart treatment you need to determine which type of wart you have.
The American Academy of Dermatology identifies the three most common wart types as being common, flat and plantar warts.
The danger in treating yourself at home is that you may become a little overzealous with the application. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you use these treatments incorrectly you could end up burning your skin.
Aside from the resulting pain and discomfort, you may potentially end up scarring yourself. So always take care and remember that warts will take some time to get rid of.
How to Remove Warts
There are two main types of home wart treatments that you can purchase without a prescription, and which I have used successfully at home.
1. Freezing Wart Remover
The first and more modern treatment is the home freezing kit. As the name suggests, this will "freeze" the warts and often kills them after only one treatment. I have used both the Wartner and Dr Scholl freezing wart remover and found them both to be as equally effective.
The treatments contain a fixed number of foam applicators, which can only be used once. Liquid is applied to the applicator, in the prescribed manner, and you typically have to wait for this to be activated. You then place the foam applicator on the wart, making sure that you do not apply any pressure, as you do so. Be careful apply to the wart only and do not touch the skin surrounding the wart. Treatment typically takes between 20 and 30 seconds and you will begin to feel a stinging sensation, as time progresses.
I personally prefer the home freezing treatments. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and less painful than repeated applications of salicylic acid. I also find them to be more effective at killing warts.
2. Salicylic Acid
The second type of treatment is salicylic acid which is a liquid or gel that is applied topically. Probably the most recognizable brand is the Compound W Salicylic Acid Wart Remover. When applied to the affected area, the acid gently "burns" away the wart or verruca, over a period of time. You may be required to soak the wart in water, beforehand and also, use an emery board to file away at the wart.
This treatment can be used for up to 12 weeks.
Personally, I only use this method on small flat warts, as it does tend to get rid of them after only one application. For larger warts, I find the salicylic acid takes too long to eliminate the wart and also find it rather painful.
Whichever treatment you select, you must always read the manufacturer's literature to ensure that the product you purchase is suitable for both the type and location of the wart. Additionally, always use the application in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions.
Please note that this hub is NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE and is solely for informational purposes. You should always consult a suitably qualified medical professional.
- Lipke, M. M. (2006). An Armamentarium of Wart Treatments. Clinical Medicine and Research, 4(4), 273–293. [24 September 2018]
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2010 C L Grant