Common Warts: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Common skin warts (also called cutaneous warts) are small, grainy surface, raised round or oval growths that occur often on the fingers or hands. Rough to the touch, common warts often are a pattern of tiny black dots-sometimes called “seeds” which are small, clotted blood vessels.

When the virus invades this outer layer of the skin, usually through a small scratch, it causes rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of the skin creating warts. Universal Skin warts can occur on any area of the skin, but often seen on fingers, hands, knees, and elbows.

How do common warts spread and how do they get it?

If you have any skin blemish, it means that you came in contact with a wart-causing virus sometime in the past, though it could have been months ago. “People get warts from other people with warts, they don’t get it from frogs and toads,” says Robert Brodell, MD, a dermatologist in Warren, Ohio.

The most common way is direct skin-to-skin contact, such as shaking hands with someone who has these warts on their hands. This virus can also be gotten from inanimate objects, like towels that have been used by someone with warts.

Symptoms of common warts

Common warts have the following symptoms:

  • Sturdy growth, most often occurring on the fingers, around the nails, on the back of the hands.
  • They are more common when the skin is broken, such as from biting fingernails or picking at hangnails.
  • There can also be an appearance of black dots that look like seeds (often called “seed” warts).
  • Most often feel like rough bumps.

Causes of Common Warts

Common Warts are an infection in the top layer of the skin, caused by viruses in the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV family. The viruses are more likely to cause warts when they come in contact with skin that is damaged or cut.

Getting a small scrape or biting fingernails may cause wart. Similarly, cuts and nicks from shaving can provide an avenue for infection. This explains why men may have warts in the beard area, while women often have them appear on the leg.

Treatment of Common Warts

We have different approaches to treating this kind of warts. The doctor may suggest one of the approaches, based on the location of the person’s warts; symptoms and preferences. These methods are sometimes used in combination with home treatments, such as salicylic acid.

The goals of treatment are to destroy the warts, stimulate an immune system that is responsive to fighting the virus, or both.

The treatment includes the following:

  • Stronger peeling medicine (Salicylic acid). Prescription-strength wart medications with salicylic acid work by removing layers of a wart a little bit at a time. Studies show that salicylic acid is more effective when combined with freezing.
  • Freezing (Cryotherapy).Freezing therapy done at a doctor’s office involves applying liquid nitrogen to the wart.
  • Other acids. If salicylic acid or freezing isn’t working, your doctor may try bichloroacetic or trichloroacetic acid. With these methods, the doctor first shaves the surface of the wart and then applies the acid with a wooden toothpick. It requires repeated treatments every week or so. Side effects are burning and stinging.
  • Laser treatment. Pulsed-dye laser treatment burns (Cauterizes) tiny blood vessels. The infected tissue eventually dies, and the wart falls off.

It is possible to prevent skin warts, and if someone gets common skin warts, it is possible to focus on prevention and treat skin warts promptly when they do appear.

The first way to prevent skin warts is to avoid coming in contact with the virus:

  • Be sure your hands are washed thoroughly and regularly.
  • If you work out at a gym, make sure you clean equipment before you use with a clean towel
  • Protect yourself in the gym locker room and shower by wearing rubber flip-flops or sandals.

The second way to prevent skin warts is to keep your skin from cuts.

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