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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Warts

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common name

Kulugo (Fil.); kalunggo (Vis.)

Warts are non-cancerous skin growth caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that invades an open or damaged skin. They are self-limiting and typically disappear on their own but some warts can take years to disappear. It is contagious and can spread by direct contact with the wart and then touch another part of your body or by sharing personal items with an infected person such as towels and razors.

Warts are not painful but it may affect your appearance. Some types of warts also have an increased risk of cancer. It is best to consult a doctor about warts that itch or hurt.

Symptoms

Though it is very easy to recognize the presence of warts which depends on the infected area of the body, the symptoms may vary:

  • Common Warts (Verruca vulgaris). This is skin-colored or brownish with a rough, horny surface. It is the biggest type 1/8-1 inch (3-25 mm), and one wart may join another. It can occur at any age, but is most common in children, especially on the hands. It is painless, unless under a nail or at a site of pressure, such as where a shoe rubs. If left alone it may disappear but very rarely, may last more than ten years.
  • Plantar Warts (Verruca plantaris). These are firm and round with a rough surface, and the base is embedded deep in the soles of the feet or the toes. They may be single or multiple and are often painful. When the top is pared off, dark spots can be seen. These are blood vessels supplying the wart and are not found in calluses or corns. Plantar warts may disappear spontaneously in a few months, but in some cases they can persist for years.
  • Plane or Flat Warts (Verruca plana). These are smooth, skin-colored or light brown, and very small. They generally grow in clusters, often along the line of a scratch. Children are usually affected; the face, neck, arms and legs being common sites. The warts may disappear on their own.
  • Filiform Warts (Verucca filiformis). These are thin strips of skin (filaments), up to 1/8 inch (3 mm) in length with a hard tip. They usually grow on the face, neck, chin and eyelids and may be solitary or in clusters. They will disappear spontaneously if left, but because of their site, they are usually treated.
  • Anogenital or Venereal Warts. Known as Condylomata acuminata, anogenital warts are multiple, small cauliflower-like growths on the vulva, penis, and skin around the anus. They often grow quickly and irritate. They are usually, but not always, acquired from a sexual partner. They may disappear spontaneously, but reinfection may occur.
Risk Factors
  • Most types of HPV have affinity for the skin and produce warts. The infection is present in the skin cells of the wart, and can be passed on through close skin-to-skin contact, and from one body location to another on the same person.
  • It is more likely to catch the infection if the skin is moist, peeling, or cracked.
  • Some types (e.g., Condylomata acuminata) are transmitted sexually. The degree of contact, the location of the lesions, the amount of virus present (newer warts tend to contain more viral particles than older warts that are difficult to get rid of), and the state of a person's immunity are among the factors that may determine HPV infection.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Tissue-destructing chemicals. Preparations containing acids (acetic acid, lactic acid, nitric acid, salicylic acid, or trichloroacetic acid), silver nitrate, potassium hydroxide, formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde, or podophyllum resin or its derivatives (podophyllotoxin) are used in chemical destruction of tissues. Podophyllum resin or podophyllotoxin are possibly used more frequently than other forms of drug therapy in anogenital warts. Usually these preparations are in the form of plaster or collodion-like vehicle (similar to liquid glue). In making use of any of these, make sure to apply them only on the wart to prevent the surrounding skin tissue from being affected, eaten or destroyed. More importantly, persons with diabetes or circulatory problems are discouraged to treat their warts (or any other foot problems) by themselves.
  • Tissue freezing agents. Liquid nitrogen or solid carbon dioxide may be used in performing tissue freezing (cryotherapy).
  • Cytotoxics. These are agents that kill cells (e.g., bleomycin or fluorouracil) applied as intralesional injection. They also destroy the wart and may be employed in severe or resistant cases.
  • Immunomodulators. Imiquimod has recently been introduced for the treatment of anogenital warts. It is an immune response modifier applied as a 5% cream three times a week and is left on the skin for 6- 10 hours.
Treatment and Management
  • Treating warts while they are still small may prevent them from spreading.
  • Wearing shoes or sandals when walking in public areas, such as pools and locker rooms to avoid coming into contact with the virus.
  • Refraining from touching other people's warts, sharing towels, shoes or socks who has warts.
  • Using condoms can prevent genital warts.
Home Remedies

Applicable only for the common warts and plantar warts.

  • Topical vitamin therapy. Vitamin A from fish oil or fish-liver oil may be applied. Just break open capsules that contain 25,000 international units of vitamin A, squeeze some of the liquid into the wart, and rub it in. Apply once a day. Different warts respond differently to this treatment. Juvenile warts can be gone in a month, although it may take two to four months longer. Plantar warts might take a minimum of two months and may take longer than five months before it is removed.

A paste made out of crushed vitamin C tablets and water is also believed to kill the wart-producing virus because of its high acidity. Apply the paste to the wart, avoiding the surrounding skin as it may cause irritation, and then cover with a bandage to hold paste in place.

  • Tape Technique. Wrap snugly any kind of medical or first-aid tape over the wart and leave it as longer as possible (at least three weeks). Change the tape only when there is a need to look clean. A drop of plain castor oil to the taped wart, twice daily, can also be an option.
  • Baking soda paste. Baking soda made into a thick paste using castor oil can also be applied a couple of times a day. To keep it from rubbing off, either apply a bandage or put on a glove or sock.
  • Maintain dry feet. Warts thrive on moisture, so keeping the feet very dry might help eliminate plantar warts. If possible, change socks at least three times a day. Also, a medicated foot powder, or other drying agents, applied frequently (ten times a day) will also be of benefit.
Doctors to Consult
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