Warts are skin growths caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Most warts do not hurt unless they are in areas of the skin that are frequently irritated by rubbing or shaving, such as the foot, leg, or face.
The main types of warts include:
- Common warts. These rough, gray-brown, dome-shaped growths appear most often on the hands, but they may appear anywhere on the body.
- Plantar warts. These warts appear on the soles of the feet and look like hard, thick patches of skin with dark specks. Plantar warts may cause pain when a person walks and may feel like stepping on a pebble.
- Genital warts. These may be found on the genitals, around the anus, within the rectum or vagina, or on the cervix. In some cases, genital warts are too small to see. They range in color from flesh to gray and often grow together to form cauliflower-like masses. Genital warts can cause cell changes that increase the risk of anal, cervical, or rectal cancer.
- Flat warts. These are usually found on the face, arms, or legs. They are small (usually smaller than the eraser on the end of a pencil), have flat tops, and can be pink, light brown, or light yellow. Several warts may be found in one area.
- Filiform warts. These flesh-colored warts with finger-shaped projections are usually found around the mouth, nose, or beard area.
- Periungual warts. Periungual warts are found under and around the toenails and fingernails. They appear as rough, irregular bumps. They can affect nail growth.
Treatment is not always necessary for warts. They can be treated if they are painful or unsightly, or because they are a type that is easily spread. If they are treated, home treatment with salicylic acid is often all that is necessary. If this does not work, prescription medicines or freezing (cryotherapy) can be tried. Surgery is also an option.
Genital warts can be spread during sex, so it is important to use latex condoms every time you have sex. Regular screening for cancer, including Pap smears for women, is also important.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology|
|Last Revised||September 2, 2010|