Warts: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
What are Warts?
Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The three types of warts that are most common are plantar warts, flat warts and common warts. Children are more susceptible to the virus because their immune systems are not fully developed and the areas on their body are more prone to minor injury so often there is a break in the skin that makes it easy for the virus to enter. People also tend to get warts when they are under a lot of stress and the immune system is weak.
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It is extremely rare for warts to become malignant but you should always be aware of the possibility of skin cancer. Seek medical advice if the wart or surrounding skin is: painful; red; bleeding; swollen; or oozing pus.
Never attempt to remove or treat a wart yourself by burning, cutting, tearing or picking. A large number of people read about the potential of removing warts using the duct tape method. However this method can cause long term damage to the skin surrounding the wart, create scarring and intense bleeding (not to mention pain). We recommend natural wart removal products in order to gently address warts.
Educate your children to wash their hands and skin regularly and well, while avoiding direct skin contact with a wart on someone else. If your child cuts or scratches his skin, be careful to use soap and water to thoroughly clean the area because open wounds are more susceptible to the wart virus. Warts on the skin can be transmitted by person to person contact.
Causes of Warts
Warts should not be confused with moles. Moles are often dark and can grow quite large while warts are usually small, skin-colored and rough to the touch. They can grow almost anywhere on the body but the most common places are the hands, fingers, face and feet. Warts on the soles of the feet are called plantar's warts.
Like other infectious diseases, wart viruses pass from person to person. But you can also get the wart virus by touching a personal item such as a towel or clothing that has recently been used by someone else who has the virus. In the case of plantar warts on the feet, it is easy to pick up the virus when walking barefoot in public areas such as the paving around a swimming pool, public showers or locker rooms.
So warts are contagious and children are the most susceptible to them because their immune system is less mature. Each person's immune system responds to the HPV virus differently, meaning not everyone who comes in contact with HPV develops warts.
If you have warts, you can spread the virus to other places on your own body. Warts usually spread through breaks in your skin, such as a hangnail or scrape. Biting your nails also can cause warts to spread on your fingertips and around your nails. A wart will not necessarily develop straight away. It can take a wart as long as two to six months to develop after exposure to the virus.
Types of Warts
Common warts which are the familiar type of dome-shaped warts on the backs of fingers, toes, and knees. Although they are considered to be contagious, it is very common for just one family member to have them. In addition, they often affect just one part of the body (such as the hands or the feet) without spreading over time to other areas.
- Plantar's warts are found on the bottom of the foot. The pressure of walking or standing on them flattens them so they can become very painful. They can be dotted with very small clotted blood vessels that look like dark pinpoint spots – some people think they are roots. Sometimes plantar warts are confused with corns.
- Flat or plane warts may arise on the face, legs, and other parts of the body, often very small (the size of a pinhead) and in large numbers.
- Periungual warts are warts that occur around or under the nail.
- Filiform warts typically appear as a single long stalk, often on the face.
Warts and Children
Over 120 HPV types have been identified and each strain is referred to by number. The HPV virus causes warts and each type of wart is named for either its appearance or the place on the body where it occurs. In spite of the media hype about the HPV virus, some strains of this virus cause comparatively harmless warts in children. However, children do have an immature immune system so this makes them more likely to pick up warts in the first place.
HPV is opportunistic and will often take advantage of any small scratch, cut or wound in the skin to invade warm moist places – particularly on the fingers, hands and feet. Children will have many more of these small scratches, cuts or wounds than adults plus they also tend to have more skin-to-skin contact with other children as well as sharing lots of items like towels, clothing, toys and more.
These reasons along with the more immature immune system can lead to the appearance of warts in children from time to time.
Although most warts are painless, plantar warts on the soles of the feet can become very painful when they start to grow inwards because of the pressure and weight of being walked on all the time.
There are four main types of warts that affect children:
- Common warts which usually appear on fingers, hands, knees or elbows. They look like small, hard bumps shaped like a dome and are a brown to grey color. Their rough surface sometimes reminds people of a tiny cauliflower.
- Flat warts which are very small and about the size of a pinhead. These warts have flat smooth tops and are usually the same color as your flesh. Although commonly occurring on the face, they can also grow singly or in clusters on arms, knees or hands. If children scratch or pick at flat warts, they can be spread to other parts of the body.
- Filiform warts which have a finger-like shape and are usually flesh-colored. They often grow on or around the mouth, eyes or nose.
- Plantar warts which are those painful warts that appear on the soles of the feet as already mentioned. Please be aware that it is important to treat plantar warts as soon as possible as they become more stubborn and more painful the longer they are around.
It is always easier to treat your children’s warts in the early stages plus this has the added advantage of preventing them being so contagious.
- OTC products that contain acids to help remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the wart. Various strengths are available, from 17% with liquids to 40% with patches. These products are usually applied daily to remove the warts layer by layer until they have disappeared - but do not use on the face because of the harsh ingredients.
- Cryotherapy is another method for treatment, using extremely low temperatures to literally freeze the warts away with liquid nitrogen. While the treatment can be carried out by doctors or dermatologists at a cost, there are also over-the-counter cryotherapy products available. Once again, these products should not be used on the face.
- There are prescription medications for small warts.
- A common home remedy for treating flat warts is the the use of adhesive tape which is placed over the wart. Several layers of waterproof tape are placed over the area and left on for 6 days. Then the tape is removed and the area left open to the air for 12 hours. If the warts are still present when checking, the tape is applied for a further 6 days, continuing the process for as long as necessary. This is not a method we recommend.
- You can choose a natural and topical product from healing natural oils to use as a safe and gentle home remedy for all warts (including on the face) where both the root structure and the surface of the wart are treated naturally so there are no side effects such as burning or scarring. The warts that are removed with this method will not return and will not spread.
- If your child is prone to HPV warts, look at boosting the immune system. There are many ways to do this including checking vitamin D levels and topping up with plenty of sunlight plus a vitamin D3 supplement if necessary; changing to a healthier, whole food diet while avoiding those foods that are processed, contain unhealthy fats, are high in sugar and that contain stimulants; ensuring sound, good quality sleep; and enjoying regular exercise.
Warts vs. Acne
While both warts and acne are common skin conditions, they each have very distinguishing signs and symptoms.
Warts are usually small and round growths. Some are rough and some are smooth. Although they start off very small, they can grow quite large. Many will end up in a cluster and resemble a small cauliflower.
Acne has different types of pimples such as whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, cysts, pustules and papules. While the whiteheads and blackheads (as their names suggest) have white heads or black heads to them, the others are red small or large bumps.
The most common place for warts is on the hands and fingers followed by planter warts which occur on the soles of the feet. They can grow on other parts of the body too. A different type of wart is a genital wart which is a sexually transmitted disease.
Although acne can break out anywhere on the skin where there are hair follicles, the usual location is the face followed by the neck, shoulders and back.
Common, flat and plantar warts are more common in children and young adults (a) because their immune systems are less mature and (b) they tend to have more physical contact with one another. Genital warts are most likely in young adults. Warts are contagious.
Acne is most likely in the teens although there are some cases of adult acne in the twenties and early thirties. Acne is not contagious.
The problem with warts is that often they are difficult to get rid of. It can happen that even after a wart shrinks or disappears, your warts may return or spread to other parts of the body. This is because most treatments only destroy the wart – they cannot kill the virus that causes the wart. This is when you get recurring warts.
As you get older, you may find that you become less likely to get warts or recurring warts. Warts become less common in older people probably because their immune system develops immunity over time.
Treatment of Recurring Warts
Even if you have the warts virus, it can take many months before a wart is noticed. In some people, they just become carriers of the virus and never have visible warts.
There are some risk factors that you can control to try and avoid both warts in the first place or recurring warts if you have already had them in the past.
- Public showers and other places with damp warm surfaces such as locker rooms or the areas around swimming pools provide the perfect breeding ground for picking up the warts virus. So be aware of this and always keep on some sort of footwear.
- Take care not to share personal items.
- Avoid touching warts on either yourself or someone else. If you do so, wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water.
- Be careful not to bite your nails or cuticles.
- A wart may return after surgery because surgery removes the wart but does not destroy the human papilloma virus that causes the wart.
- If you have a history of warts that recur, you may want to discuss more aggressive ways of treating these recurring warts with your doctor or health care provider.
Warts & Cryotherapy Treatment
While there are many different ways in which you can treat warts, cryotherapy can be a very effective method, particularly in the cases of stubborn warts. It is not recommended for plantar warts because with cryotherapy, a blister forms and this would be very painful to walk on afterwards. The advantage is that cryotherapy is not an invasive procedure. The wart or warts are destroyed by the application of extreme cold on the cells so that water ice crystals form. These ice crystals expand, pushing through the cell walls and eliminating the wart.
The way cryotherapy is carried out is that your doctor or health care practitioner cleans the wart and the surrounding skin before applying liquid nitrogen as a spray, on a cotton swab or through a tube. The cryogen or freezing agent such as liquid nitrogen may sting and if someone is particularly sensitive then a local anesthetic can be given. After the treatment, the doctor will cover the area with a small bandage for protection. A blister forms, crusts over and then falls off within the space of 2 to 3 days. The affected cells in the wart are killed off but the connective tissue remains unharmed so that the area can heal, usually without the risk of scarring. Although the virus itself cannot be cured by the cryotherapy, it does tend to dissipate into the surrounding tissue where in many cases the immune system takes care of it.
Natural Treatment for Symptoms of Warts
H-Warts Formula is all natural and contains no harmful additives. Our FDA listed wart product is manufactured to the highest standards in a GMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices) in the USA.*
Made up of the highest quality essential oil and homeopathic ingredients, H-Warts Formula is gentle on the skin and safe for adults and children over 4 yrs. Simple to apply and fast acting!
How Does H-Warts Formula Work?
H-Warts Formula is a natural product containing carefully selected homeopathic ingredients and aids in the treatment of warts. Thuja occidentalis is used locally for warts symptoms.
For skin tags and moles, see our skin tag product and mole product*
How Do I Use It?
Apply the product directly to your warts using a cotton swab. Our natural warts product is concentrated, only a few drops are needed for each application. Contains natural homeopathic components which counteract the symptoms of warts when used properly and according to instructions.*
How Long Does It Take?
H-Warts Formula begins to work quickly! The process does vary based on the size and number of warts. The warts may change in color, size and/or appearance and begin to flake away. You can expect to see results in a week or two. Some stubborn warts may take a little longer.*
Other guides on health conditions:
American Academy of Dermatology. How do dermatologists treat warts?. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/warts#treatment. Accessed January 26, 2021.
American Academy of Dermatology. Warts. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/u---w/warts. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Kwok CS, et al. Topical treatments for cutaneous warts. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001781.pub3/abstract. Accessed December 7, 2020.