How do people get warts?
Warts (Verrucae) are benign growths of the skin that are triggered by viruses. Especially children often have a wart on their fingers or in other places on their hands. Warts in the face and feet are also common. Here you can find all important information about: How do warts develop? Are they contagious? How to prevent warts?
Warts (verrucae) are small, sharply defined growths (tumors) of the upper skin. They are triggered by viruses, in most cases by human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are particularly common in children and adolescents, but in principle they can develop in every age.
There are different types of papilloma virus. Depending on which type of virus is responsible for the infection and where it settles, morphologically different types of warts develop. Also, there are some skin changes that look like warts but are of different origin.
Common warts are the most common virus-related agents. Other names are common or vulgar warts, skin or goitre. These skin nodules can form everywhere in the body; But they are most commonly found on hands and feet.
It is a special form of Verrucae vulgares with a long filiform stem. They develop particularly in the elderly on the eyelids, lips, nose or neck. Occasionally they itch. It is also possible to irritate or injure a filiform wart when washing, drying or shaving.
Plantar warts are warts on the sole of the foot, heel or between the toes. They are very painful and can even make walking impossible. From the outside they look quite small, but they usually reach deep into the underskin.
If you want to remove thorn warts, you need patience: the skin tumors can be quite stubborn. However, a consequent treatment is advisable, especially if the plantar warts cause great pain when walking. Over time, it could lead to a series of late successes such as injuries or lack of control.
Flat warts (Verrucae planae juveniles) develop mainly in children and adolescents. The triggers of flat warts are human papilloma viruses (HPV). Very often, the small, plump, rounded flat warts develop in the face or on the hands. In many cases, they are formed by themselves.
Flat warts are one to two millimeters wide, flat papules. They are coarse, skin colored or translucent and are often not recognized as warts. They are usually found in larger numbers on the face (forehead, temples, cheeks, mouth) as well as on the hands.
Flat warts are harmless and usually spontaneously return normal. Scars will not be left behind. It is therefore not necessary to treat them. Therapeutic measures (especially invasive measures) should only be used very cautiously.
Molluscum contagiosum are not real warts. But they are called because of the similar appearance. It is a widespread, harmless viral infection of the skin that can be easily diagnosed. The small papules are caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus, a representative from the group of poxviruses.
Molluscum contagiosum are usually pin head large papules. They can be particularly large (three to five centimeters in diameter) especially in people with HIV/AIDS. The papules have a smooth, glossy surface and are skin-colored, white or transparent.
Age warts (seborrheic keratosis) are not real warts because they are not caused by viruses. Therefore, they are also not contagious. However, seborrheic keratosis is widespread and occur more frequently in old age. Because they are benign, they need not be removed.
Age warts (seborrheic keratosis) are small skin nodules which develop individually or in a plurality in many people in the senior year (occasionally also in young adults). Both sexes are about equally affected. The correct medical terminology for benign skin tumors is seborrheic keratosis or basal cell papilloma.
Age warts (seborrheic keratosis) mainly in the face, on the upper body (chest as back), back of the hand and on the front of the extremities (arms and legs). Warts on the palms and soles of the feet are never old age warts.
Age warts (seborrheic keratosis) can usually be easily identified by their appearance. However, there are also similar lesions, which must be excluded in unclear cases. These include malignant skin tumors such as black skin cancer. In order to determine whether it is a seborrheic wart or a malignant skin growth, examination is necessary.
If the diagnosis is clear, it is not necessary to remove age warts (seborrheic keratosis). Because they are harmless and usually do not cause discomfort. Depending on the localization, mechanical irritation may occur.
In many cases, age warts (seborrheic keratosis) are also perceived as cosmetically disturbing. Then you should go to the doctor to have the age warts removed. Such an intervention is also necessary if the diagnosis is unclear – so you can not tell clearly whether it is actually a seborrheic wart or rather a malignant lesion.
Skin warts (verrucae vulgares) are pin-head to pea-sized, hemispherical skin nodules. Their initially smooth surface is jagged and incrusted with increasing growth. In addition, the first skin-colored skin growths gradually become a dirty yellow color.
They sometimes occur singly (solitary), but more frequently in larger numbers. These warts are particularly often found on hand and foot. A wart on the finger sits in many cases near the nail edge (periungual).
Pressure pain or itching can not cause verrucae vulgares generally. Such complaints can occur, however, in some cases in other forms. These can also differ slightly in appearance.
Warts Causes and Risk Factors
Warts are caused in most cases by human papillomavirus (HPV): The pathogens penetrate small skin injuries and cracks in skin cells and trigger an uncontrolled cell multiplication: the intruders force the human host cells to produce more viruses.
The pathogens are different types of HPV. For example, common (vulgar) warts are usually caused by HPV types 1, 2, 4 and 7. It is also possible to demonstrate the HPV types 1, 2 and 4 in the nipples.
By the way: certain types of human papilloma viruses are involved in the development of several cancers (such as cervical cancer and penis cancer). These are not the types of viruses that are responsible for the traditional Verrucae. Caution is only necessary for the so-called genital or fig warts (condylomata).
Various factors can promote the formation of warts. Most common factor is Verrucae vulgares. These risk factors include increased sweating (hyperhidrosis), disturbed circulation in fingers and toes (acrocyanosis) and a weakened immune system.
People with a tendency to allergy (atopia) or an already existing atopic disease (such as neurodermatitis) are particularly vulnerable. Emotional conflicts and stress also seem to increase the risk of disease. Affected adults are also often smokers.
Are warts contagious?
Virus warts are contagious (infectious): The viruses are transmitted directly from person to person, sometimes also indirectly via towels or shaving devices. Between the infection and the onset of the first Verrucae (incubation period) can take four weeks to eight months.
Infection is particularly easy when the skin is injured. It also has a beneficial effect on moist or softened skin. For example, you can easily get infected in the swimming pool or in communal showers in the sports club or school.
In addition, people who have frequent contact with the triggering viruses or affected people (such as children) are at risk.
How to diagnose warts?
The diagnosis of warts is not difficult. The doctor can usually recognize the small, benign skin tumors by their appearance. In addition, the shape, structure, and localization of the growths in most cases also reveal the nature of the growth.
If the diagnosis is unclear, the doctor can take a tissue sample and have it examined histologically in the laboratory. In individual cases, attempts are also made to detect the pathogens (human papillomavirus) in the sample.
How to remove warts?
If you want to remove warts, you can rely on different methods. The skin growths are frequently treated with an acid preparation. Other people leave the wart freezing or rely on old home remedies.
Most warts do not make any complaints and disappear sooner or later. Then, there is no medical reason to remove warts.
If you feel the small skin growths as cosmetically disturbing, you should discuss with a doctor how the warts can be removed. The same is true for warts that cause discomfort, such as on the sole of the feet, which make walking very painful.
“What helps against warts?” With this question many people are turning to their pharmacist or doctor. The answer is: there are different methods and remedies for warts. Which strategy is most useful in individual cases depends, for example, on the type and number of warts and their localisation.
- Dissolving the horn layer
Different acids can remove warts by dissolving their horny layer. Salicylic acid is usually used, sometimes a different acid such as lactic acid. If you want to remove flat warts on the face, vitamin A acid is usually used. The acids are available as a solution, cream or plaster in the pharmacy – usually without prescription.
- Warts freezing (cryotherapy)
The doctor may freeze warts by gently applying liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold resulting from its evaporation destroys the top layer of the skin. This must be repeated several times, so you can permanently remove the warts. There must be at least one week between sessions.
Applying the liquid nitrogen can cause a short, pungent cold pain. As a result, the skin usually reds and swells. There may also be a skin blister. It usually takes several days to heal the warts with crust formation. If cryotherapy is carried out with caution, no scar will be left behind.
The removal of warts by icing is not allowed in all cases. For example, the method is not suitable for people with a diabetic foot or “window disease” (peripheral arterial occlusion disease, pad).
The ironing of warts on the foot can interfere with the already worsened blood circulation, damaging the nerves and causing poorly healing wounds. Also in Raynaud’s Syndrome (disease-induced lower blood circulation of fingers and toes), cryotherapy is not suitable to have a wart removed.
- Other methods for removing warts
There are other remedies for warts. However, there is a lack of clear evidence that they really help or function better than acids or icing.
Special ointments and solutions with active ingredients that inhibit cell growth (5-fluorouracil) or viruses (acyclovir etc.) can also be used to remove warts. Sometimes various drugs are injected into the warts, such as 5-fluorouracil or substances that affect the immune system (interferons).
In addition, warts can be removed using the curettage: the skin nodules are scraped off with a medical instrument. Beforehand, they are often pretreated with acid.
Warts disease history and prognosis
Warts are generally harmless. As soon as the body succeeds in successfully fighting the triggering viruses, they disappear by itself. However, this can take weeks to months.
However, this can take weeks to months. In studies on affected schoolchildren and adolescents it was found that after one year about fifty percent and after two years about seventy percent were again free of warts. Comparable studies in adults do not exist.
How quickly the small skin growths disappear in the individual case depends on various factors, including the type of virus and wart, as well as the condition of the immune system. Thus, warts can be very persistent in humans with a weakened body defense.
Prevention tips from warts
Some measures may prevent people from being infected with the affected person or transmitting the virus to other people:
- Do not share towels, shoes and socks with other people.
- Do not walk barefoot in swimming pools, community showers, and changing rooms.
- Cover existing warts before swimming with a waterproof plaster.
- Do not touch the wart
- In addition, you should avoid scratching warts in order to not transfer the viruses to other parts of your body or to other people