What Is a Wart?

Monday, 27 Jun 2011 03:53 PM

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A wart is a small, typically painless growth on the skin caused by a type of virus called HPV, or human papillomavirus. Generally, warts are not harmful to a person’s health; however, they may be embarrassing or odd looking, prompting many to search for ways to get rid of them.

Most warts are oval or round, raised growths on the skin that are rough in texture. Next to the surrounding skin a wart may look light, dark, or even black in some cases. Most people are aware of what a typical wart looks like, but warts that are flat or smooth may be more difficult to recognize. Most warts are painless, but if a wart develops in a spot where there is frequent friction, such as on the bottom of the foot, the growth may become very painful.

There are five different types of warts which are classified according to where they typically grow on the body. These five types are:

• Common warts: these fleshy growths are usually found on the hands, but can grow anywhere on the body.
• Flat Warts: Generally found on the face and forehead, these warts are most common in children and rare in adults.
• Genital warts: Also called condyloma, this type of wart is the result of a sexually transmitted disease, and grows on the genitals, in the pubic area, and in the area between the thighs. Genital warts can also be found inside the vagina and the anal canal. A person experiencing genital warts should see a doctor for treatment.
• Plantar warts: found on the bottom of the feet, plantar warts can grow out of the skin or inward into the sole of the foot.
• Subungual and periungual warts: these appear under or around fingernails or toenails.

A wart can usually be diagnosed simply from its location and appearance. Over-the-counter treatments can be used to banish warts on the skin, but should not be used on the face or genitals. If your warts are severe, see a professional for more intense treatment.

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