by Kimberly Allen RN
The other day one of the teenage girls that live with me came to me just devastated, she has a wart on her knee. She wanted to know what is it, where did it come from and, most importantly, how to get rid of it.
Warts are small growths in our skin that are caused by viruses that belong to the family of HPV viruses. Over 100 different types of HPV can cause warts. These viruses are transmitted from person to person by touch. Warts are more common in children and teenagers than adults. The main reason is that their immune systems are not fully developed therefore it’s weaker. Wart viruses can also be transmitted indirectly, for example if you use a towel that was also used by someone that has a wart. One way that you do not get warts is by touching or holding onto frogs as some believe. The HPV viruses like warm moist places so bathmats and shower floors are great places for them to thrive, making these areas great for transmitting warts, especially plantar warts. It is also possible to transmit warts to other places on your body. Warts don’t usually develop immediately after contact with the virus. Some develop with in days while others take weeks to grow. People that bite their nails are more prone to warts than those that don’t as well.
There are several different types of warts that the HPV viruses can cause:
1. Common warts are the most common and usually develop on your hands and fingers as well as your knees and elbows. This type of wart usually appears as a small hard bump, it tends to be grayish brown in color and is usually dome shaped with a rough surface.
2.Flat warts are usually smaller than common warts, about the size of a pin head. They can vary in color being, pink, yellow, or even light brown. These warts are flat and smoother than the others. This type of wart is usually found on the face, however, they can develop in other places as well like your hands or knees. They can also develop in small clusters.
3. Plantar warts are similar to common warts except they grow on the bottom of the foot and can be quite painful. If feels like there’s a small rock in your shoe when you walk.
4. Filiform warts are a long narrow, finger like shape that extends outward from the surface of your skin, these have also been called “skin tags”. They are usually the same color as the rest of your skin and usually develop around the eyes, mouth, and nose.
Warts can also be transmitted through sexual contact and develop in the genital area.
Warts will usually disappear in 1-2 years, however, like my teenager, many people find them annoying and uncomfortable and want them gone sooner. There are numerous treatments available over the counter today. Though they have improved over the years they still take time to work. There are also home remedies that have been reported to work, the most common being duct tape. The theory behind it being that you suffocate the wart by covering it with duct tape. The problem is that in order for it to be effective the tape needs to remain in place 24/7 and it almost always falls off.
The best way to prevent warts is with good hand washing. Also, remember fingernail biting increases your risk so no nail biting. If you have a wart don’t pick at it or it may spread. Also, if you have a wart don’t brush, comb or shave the area where the wart is or you can spread the virus. If you try to use things like a pumice stone or nail file to reduce the size of a wart be careful not to use them anywhere else. Remember viruses spread easily and the best way to avoid them spreading is good personal hygine.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com.