A wart is a growth that develops on the skin after the patient becomes infected with the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Warts can appear in any location on the body. However, common warts are most likely to develop on the hands, while plantar warts grow most commonly on the feet.
Warts develop when HPV infects the top layer of the skin. In most cases, the virus enters the skin through a cut or scrape. Warts are contagious and may spread to other people or to other locations on the patient’s body through direct contact.
Warts usually appear as flat, smooth growths or as bumps with a rough surface. Inside the core of the wart, tiny blood vessels develop to supply the wart with blood. These blood vessels may be visible from the outside of the wart as small black dots. In most cases, warts are painless. However, if the growth develops in a location that’s under pressure, the patient may experience pain.
Warts are different from skin tags, which are fleshy growths that may appear in almost any part of the body.
Dr. Bruell typically diagnoses a wart simply by looking at it. However, if she isn’t sure whether or not the growth is a wart, she takes a small sample and examines it under a microscope. Warts sometimes are mistaken for other growths, such as skin tags. However, skin tags aren’t caused by a virus.
Some patients treat their warts at home with salicylic acid or with duct tape occlusion. However, if the wart is particularly large or bothersome, or if the wart isn’t responding to at-home treatment, patients seek professional treatment.
If a patient comes to Dr. Bruell for treatment, she uses chemical peels, surgery, cryotherapy, or specific medicines to treat the wart. Each of these treatments offers different advantages. Dr. Bruell helps patients decide which treatment option is best.
Warts can affect patients of all ages, including children. In most cases, children won’t need treatment for warts. However, if the wart is painful or in an inconvenient location, Dr. Bruell recommends treatment.
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