In Ask a Dermatologist

Warts are common in all parts of the world and affect about ten percent of the population. They can affect up to 20 percent of young children because of the germs that children are exposed to in their day-to-day school life. Warts are harmless and typically don’t cause too much pain. Though they are common, warts can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition.

Here, the board-certified dermatologists at Columbia Skin Clinic answer the most frequently asked questions about warts.

What are warts?

Warts are small growths on your skin that look like blisters and are caused by viruses of the human papillomavirus family. They can be contagious through touch but usually don’t develop immediately and will take two to six months before you notice them. Common warts are nothing to worry about and will eventually disappear on their own. Many people choose to remove them because they don’t like how they look.

Warts are a virus that affects your skin. You can contract the virus if you touch someone with warts, or if you touch something they have recently touched. The virus gets through the skin through any small cut or scratch that you may have. You can come in contact with things like doorknobs, keyboards and remote controls and still contract warts. The virus can live on surfaces for hours, so it’s essential to wash your hands after you use commonly touched items.

What are the most common types of warts?

Common warts

Common warts affect fingers and toes. They are rough and rounded at the top and are usually a gray color. They will always be a different color than your surrounding skin. You will notice them right away simply because of where they are located. They can be very painful if left untreated.

Plantar warts

These warts only grow on the soles of your feet. They differ from other warts because they grow into your skin, versus growing on top of it. A plantar wart will look like a hole in your skin. It will usually be hard to the touch will be surrounded by rough skin. These warts make walking pretty uncomfortable, so you will notice if you have one right away.

Flat warts

These warts typically appear on the arms, face and legs. They are quite small and can be hard to identify. As their name suggests, they have a flat top. They can be a tan or brown color, or they can be pink or yellow as well.

Filiform warts

These warts appear around your mouth, nose and chin and are very small. They are also normally the same color as your skin, so if you are prone to warts, you should check yourself for these.

Periungual warts

These warts only grow around fingernails and toenails. They can be extremely painful and can stunt nail growth. You will notice if you start to develop a periungual wart.

What is the treatment for warts?

Warts can be treated in a variety of ways. Some at-home treatments are available, but some people prefer to go straight to the doctor for treatment. If you do opt to use an at-home treatment, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

You can spread warts to other parts of your body without meaning to. The object you use to file down your wart can spread the bacteria to other parts of your body without you even realizing it. If you choose to do at-home wart treatment, throw away the items used right after you’re done.

If you have diabetes, do not attempt to treat plantar warts at home. You could end up severely injuring yourself. You should see a doctor as soon as you notice a plantar wart.

You should never remove warts on sensitive areas of your body at home. This includes your face, mouth, nose and genitals. Make an appointment with a doctor for warts in these areas.

A popular at-home treatment for warts is a freezing treatment. You can buy this treatment at your local drugstore, and it comes with concentrated cold air in a spray bottle. Once you spray a wart, it should freeze up and go away within a few days. This can be a useful remedy, but keep in mind it does not work for all types of warts.

When should I see a doctor for a wart?

You should see your doctor if you are experiencing frequent pain, or if you see that your warts are spreading. Visit your dermatologist if warts continue to occur or take a long time to disappear after you perform at-home treatments.

Where can I find treatment for warts in the Midlands?

Most warts are nothing to worry about, but some warts do require a doctor’s attention. Pay attention to your body and take care of yourself. Warts are very common, so there is no need to hesitate when voicing questions or concerns to your doctor.

The experienced team at Columbia Skin Clinic offers treatment for warts in our Columbia, Irmo and Camden offices. Contact us today to make an appointment for any of your skin health needs.

Ask a Dermatologist: Psoriasis 101