Although they are usually harmless, warts can be a cause for embarrassment, and sometimes they can even be painful. If your warts are causing you any discomfort, there are treatments available that can remove them for good.
What Are Warts?
Warts are raised bumps or lumps on your skin, which typically feel grainy, rough and rigid. They usually appear on the hands, fingers, toes and feet, though they can appear on any region of the body. They are normally harmless, but they can be unsightly and embarrassing. In most cases, warts are completely painless, though they can sometimes cause pain, particularly when they grow on the soles of your feet.
Generally, warts will disappear on their own, but it can take months (and, in some cases, years) for them to do so, and in that time, they may spread to other areas of the body or to other people. Our treatments for warts remove them immediately and, in doing so, prevent them from spreading further.
Types of Warts
There are five major types of warts. Different types tend to grow in different regions of the body and have a distinct appearance.
Common warts are small skin growths that usually appear on your fingers, hands or feet, though they can also grow on other areas of the body. Additionally, they tend to appear on areas of the body where the skin is damaged or broken, and so if you bite your fingernails, they tend to appear around the nails. They feel coarse and rough to touch, and they are often studded with small black dots, which are tiny, clotted blood vessels.
As their name suggests, flat warts are flat-topped and smooth. You might also hear them referred to as juvenile warts, as they are more commonly found in children and teenagers. Although they are smaller than other types of warts, they grow in large numbers. They are typically pink, brown, or yellow in colour, and they tend to appear on the face, thighs, or arms.
Plantar warts grow on your feet' soles. Unlike other types of warts, they grow into your skin due to the pressure that is placed on your feet when you walk and stand. Consequently, plantar warts do not protrude out of the skin but are flat and firm. They often have small black dots on their surface and are usually surrounded by coarse, hardened skin. Sometimes, they grow in clusters, which are known as mosaic warts. These warts have the potential to be painful and can make walking uncomfortable.
Typically, filiform warts grow on the face, especially around the mouth, nose, and eyes. They can also appear on the neck and under the chin. As a result, filiform warts are sometimes called facial warts. They are small, spikey, and usually the same colour as your skin. Although they are not painful, filiform warts can cause itchiness, soreness or irritation if they grow in a sensitive area, such as the eyelid. Their appearance on the face also makes them highly visible, which can cause shame or frustration.
Periungual warts grow around and under your fingernails and toenails. When they first appear, they are very small and painless. However, as they grow, they can become painful, and they have the potential to interrupt nail growth. When this happens, warts can split the skin around the nail, and in some cases, they can even disfigure your nails. People who bite or chew their fingernails are more likely to develop periungual warts.
Warts are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus penetrates the outer layer of the skin, often via a cut or a scratch. When this happens, HPV rapidly accelerates the growth of your skin cells on the outer layer of your skin, leading to the formation of a rough, hard lump. In some cases, it can take months for a wart to appear after your skin has been in contact with the virus. There are over 100 different types of HPV, and not all of them lead to the development of warts, but those that do are highly contagious.
Some strains of the virus are spread through sexual contact, and these can lead to the growth of warts in and around the genitals (known as ‘genital warts’). If you think that you suffer from this type of wart, you should talk to your doctor immediately. Other strains of the human papillomavirus are spread by casual skin contact or through the sharing of objects such as towels or tablecloths.
We offer several effective treatments for wart removal, such as:
When a wart is removed by surgical excision, it is simply cut away using a scalpel, removing it immediately and evening out your skin.
This is also known as cryotherapy. During this treatment, a specialist will cut your wart with a small knife and apply liquid nitrogen to it using a swab. This substance is very cold, and it destroys the cells on the outer layer of your skin, causing your wart to be frozen off. This procedure can hurt, so local anaesthetic may be used to minimise discomfort.
During this treatment, a beam of light is focussed onto the wart, which heats up the tiny blood vessels inside it and destroys them. This prevents the wart from receiving blood and starves it of the nutrients that it needs to support itself. As a result, the wart will eventually drop off and disappear.
Yes, warts are highly contagious. They are usually spread by direct skin contact, so your skin may develop a wart if you touch someone else’s. Moreover, if you pick at your own wart and then touch another part of your body, the wart is likely to spread there. Warts are also more likely to grow on wet skin, so they are often transferred from person to person via towels or washcloths which have touched a wart.
Anyone can develop warts. However, children and teenagers are at greater risk than adults, as their immune systems may not have built up immunity to HPV. Similarly, people with weakened immune systems, such as those suffering from HIV/AIDS, or people who have had organ transplants, are also more likely to develop warts. As the virus can take hold more easily when it enters through broken or injured skin, those who suffer from skin conditions, such as eczema or those who bite their fingernails, are at greater risk.
Different types of warts appear in different areas of the body. Common and periungual warts are most commonly found on the fingers and hands, whilst filiform warts appear on the face and neck. Plantar warts, on the other hand, grow on the soles of the feet, and flat warts are usually found on the face, arms and thighs.
The best way to remove your wart depends on the type of wart that you have. Cryotherapy is effective at removing warts on the hands, face and arms, but it is less effective at removing warts on the soles of the feet, such as plantar warts. Meanwhile, surgical excision is most effective at removing a single wart, so it may not be the right choice for someone who has lots of flat warts over a large area. If you are unsure about which treatment for warts is right for you, one of our friendly specialists will offer you advice during your consultation.
During your consultation, a specialist will determine the number of sessions that you require after examining the size and number of your warts. Previously untreated warts are more likely to be removed after a single treatment. Additionally, the number of sessions that you require will depend on the wart removal treatment that you have chosen, as well as the size and number of warts.
When a wart is removed by surgical excision, only one treatment is required, whilst patients will require 2-4 treatments of cryotherapy to remove a wart permanently. Generally speaking, three laser treatments are required to remove a wart.