Information on Warts
Warts (also called verrucae) are common, benign infections of the skin and adjacent mucous membranes. Although warts may occur at any age, common warts (verrucae vulgaris) are most prevalent in children and young adults. Flat warts usually occur in children but can also affect adults. Genital warts may be transmitted through sexual contact; however, they're not always venereal in origin.
Warts are particularly common in childhood and are spread by direct contact or autoinocculation. This means if a wart is scratched, the viral particles may be spread to another area of skin. It may take as long as twelve months for the wart to first appear.
Types of warts include:
Warts are caused by infection with the human papillomavirus, a group of ether-resistant, deoxyribonucleic acid-containing papovaviruses. The mode of transmission is probably through direct contact, but autoinoculation is possible.
Signs and symptoms
Warts may occur singly or in multiples. They often contain one or more tiny black dots, which are sometimes called wart seeds but are actually small, clotted blood vessels. Common warts are usually painless. Young adults and children appear to be affected most often.
Visual examination usually confirms the diagnosis. Recurrent anal warts require sigmoidoscopy to rule out internal involvement, which may necessitate surgery. To distinguish plantar warts from corns and calluses, gently shave down the lesion with a scalpel; plantar warts exhibit red or black capillary dots.
Effective treatment varies with the location, size, and number of warts. It also depends on the patient's age, pain level (current and projected), history of therapy, and compliance with treatment. Most people develop an immune response that causes warts to disappear spontaneously and require no treatment.
Treatment may include:
The use of antiviral drugs is under investigation. Suggestion and hypnosis are occasionally successful, especially with children. Carbon dioxide laser treatment has successfully been used to remove all types of warts.
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