Warts are common and contagious skin growths that affect a large portion of the population. Here’s what causes them and how they can be prevented and removed.
No, you can’t catch warts from frogs. But you can catch them from each other! These contagious skin growths are incredibly common, affecting around 10% of the population. In children, the statistics are even higher, ranging between 10% and 20%. It is also an ancient condition, with warts being discovered on mummies dating back to the Renaissance period! But what exactly causes these skin bumps to take hold and grow, and are they cause for any medical concern?
What Causes Warts?
Warts – known in dermatological circles as verruca – are skin growths that appear when a patient has been exposed to or is infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), of which there are over one hundred strains. This triggers the body to overproduce skin cells. This can result in rough, hard, thick bumps, which can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the hands and feet.
While warts are benign and unlikely to cause problems, they are highly contagious. Skin-to-skin contact with someone with a wart can spread the condition. Anyone can contract it, but people with compromised immune systems or autoimmune conditions are more at risk.
Wart Treatment Options
Warts will sometimes disappear on their own over time, sometimes after a couple of years. They can, in some cases, grow back again. Excess touching of the affected area can also lead to warts spreading to other parts of the body.
But just because they could subside on their own doesn’t mean that a wart won’t require any treatment. There are topical prescription ointments that can be applied to promote the shrinking and falling off of warts.
Removal is also an option for stubborn or prominent warts. This can be done via a procedure called curettage, where a dermatologist scrapes away the top portion of the skin. Cryotherapy harnesses the power of liquid nitrogen to freeze warts off the skin. There are also injectable drugs that can aid in fighting off the HPV infection to get to the root of the problem and treat patients from the inside out.
Got a stubborn wart you’d like to have examined? Click here to book an appointment with a dermatologist near you.