What Causes Warts?
Warts are harmless skin growths caused by a virus. They have a rough surface on which tiny dark specks may be seen. They may grow on any part of the body. Their appearance depends on the location. On the face and tops of the hands the warts typically protrude, while on such pressure areas as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, they may be pushed inward. Warts on the bottoms of the feet (called plantar warts) grow inward from the pressure of standing and walking and are often painful.
Warts are common. They may bleed if injured. However, they never turn cancerous. Since warts are caused by a virus, they are slightly contagious. Warts may spread on the body, since a wart is the source of a virus that can seed other areas. We don’t know why some people get warts easily while others never get them. There is no way to prevent warts.
People have been trying to cure warts for thousands of years. Often times though, the seeming success of home remedies for a wart is due to the fact that warts often disappear by themselves (especially in young children). This spontaneous disappearance is less common in older children and adults.
There is no single perfect treatment of warts, because we are unable to kill the virus. Treatment consists of destroying the wart. Warts can be destroyed with surgery, by freezing with liquid nitrogen, or with chemicals. The treatment to be used on your warts depends on their location and size, your type of skin, and the physician’s professional medical judgment. Sometimes, new warts will form while existing ones are being destroyed. All we can do is treat the new warts when they grow large enough to be seen.
Warts in the genital area require special consideration. Although genital warts are not cancerous, they may cause cancerous changes in a woman’s cervix. Women with genital warts should have a Pap smear performed by their personal physician or gynecologist. In adults, genital warts are usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. To prevent further contagion, genital warts should be faithfully treated until they have cleared. Men with penile warts should use condoms to prevent transmission of warts to their sexual partners.