Warts are non-cancerous growths that appear on the skin when its top layer is infected by a virus. These warts-causing viruses are referred to as human papillomavirus (HPV). They tend to infest the skin out of a cut or damaged skin and can grow in any part of the body. Additionally, they can be spread through contact as they are contagious.
Warts are easy to spot or feel and can at times be itchy or painful. Initially, they start as abnormal growths on the skin or bumps. They are deep rooted and can appear in varying colors such as yellow, brown or grey. Genital warts, for instance, pose a greater risk to women as they can bring about cervix cancer or cancer of the vulva. Some other warts symptoms include:
Warts are caused by varying strains of HPV. The viruses are naturally embedded in the skin thus, they pose a greater risk of forming warts when an individual’s immune system is weak as a result of illness or medication.
Some form of warts, such as planter, plane or common warts, can be caused by a cut. Other causes include exposure of feet by walking barefoot in public areas. Genital warts, on the other hand, are the most contagious and more serious. They are caused and spread through sexual intercourse and can take a considerable amount of time, up to two years before they appear.
It is advisable to seek medical attention in case of abnormal skin growths, lumps/bumps or skin changes that come along with pain or no pain, itching or bleeding. Warts are diagnosed by a quick physical examination of the skin by a health care provider. This way, a doctor can establish the difference between warts from other skin disorders such as moles, skin tags or cancerous growths.
Some strains of HPV can also be diagnosed in a laboratory through tests to determine the risk of becoming cancerous. One may also undergo a skin biopsy to establish whether the growth may pose the risk of cancer.
Warts usually tend to disappear on their own, but that may take a very long time of up to two years. There are treatments available if one dislikes how the warts look or if they cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
It is highly recommended to seek health care from a qualified professional if one needs to get rid of warts. Removing the warts on your own by cutting, burning, tearing or picking, along any other method is highly discouraged.
There are a number of over the counter medications that are helpful in alleviating warts. However, it is also important to note that warts on the face or the genitals should be treated by a qualified health provider and not by using over the counter medications.
If warts do not go away, they can be treated by freezing them, a blistering solution, a more powerful medication such as salicylic acid, laser treatment, immunotherapy or electrocautery.
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