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How to prevent and treat warts

Aug 18, 2019

This article covers common knowledge about medical conditions and does not replace therapies for medical conditions. If you are unsure, consult a doctor.

In Germany, every second person suffers from warts in the course of his life. Although the skin growths are considered medically harmless, they often cause itching and pain. Warts often disappear on their own after a few months, but sometimes a visit to the doctor is unavoidable. How warts develop, can be prevented and treated, you will learn in the following.

What are warts and how do they develop?

Warts describe benign skin growths that are usually triggered by the so-called human papillomaviruses (HPV). Mostly, the warts appear on the foot, hand, genital area or face.

In total, there are about 90 different human papillomaviruses, which can trigger different types of warts. Dell warts, on the other hand, are triggered by a pox virus. In addition, in the advanced years of life, age warts can develop. They are not caused by a virus and are therefore not contagious.

Therefore, in most cases, a wart is caused by contact with the papilloma viruses. Often the virus is transmitted through physical contact, such as passing hands in greeting. Also common is infection through contaminated objects and surfaces, such as walking barefoot in the sauna.

The viruses, which are still outside the body, now enter the uppermost layer of the skin through tiny cracks on the skin. From there, individual cells become infected and the skin growths develop.

The most common types of warts

The numerous human papillomaviruses produce a variety of different types of warts. They differ, for example, in appearance and the body regions on which they appear.

In the following, we will take a closer look at the most common types of warts:

Flat warts

Flat warts, also called plane warts, are only a few millimeters in size, but often appear in increased numbers. They form a flat surface, mostly on the face or hands. Children and adolescents are particularly often affected by this type of warts.

Prickly warts

Prickly warts are also called vulgar warts or common warts. They account for about 70% of all wart complaints and thus form the most common type of warts. They are particularly common on the soles of the feet, fingers, face or the skin under the fingernail.

Vulgar warts form hard nodules in the skin. These subsequently become keratinized and often develop a grayish color. Prickly warts can be a few millimeters in size or the size of a pea.

Mosaic warts

Mosaic warts are among the plantar warts and occur exclusively on the underside of the foot. They always colonize the sole of the foot in groups. The high number of warts is usually close together, creating a mosaic-like pattern.

Plantar warts

Plantar warts also belong to the group of plantar warts. They grow deep into the skin, which can cause severe pain when walking. The surface of this type of wart is usually heavily keratinized and interspersed with dark spots.

Genital warts

Genital warts, also called genital warts, are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases. They often colonize the genital and anal areas in large numbers.

They usually reach the size of a pinhead and can take on a reddish, brownish or white-greyish coloration. In sensitive areas, the growths can cause itching.

Dell warts

Dell warts are caused by a pox virus and particularly often affect children and adolescents with dry skin, as well as people with a weakened immune system or neurodermatitis. They are particularly common on the face, neck or arms and legs.

They form the size of a pinhead with a dent in the center. The wart type forms a skin-colored to light red color and contains a white fluid containing virus.

Age warts

Age warts often occur after the age of 50. They are not caused by a virus, but only by the hornification of the skin. Therefore, age warts are not contagious. The skin growths mainly occur on the chest, back or face.

They can reach the size of a bean. This type of wart is either roundish or oval and has a gray, brown or black coloring.

How to prevent warts

Human papillomaviruses, which are responsible for most types of warts, spread through smear infection. Therefore, infection can never be guaranteed to be prevented, but you can minimize the risk of infection with the following advice.

  • Wear bathing shoes in the swimming pool, sauna and sports facilities.
  • wear slippers in hotel rooms.
  • Thoroughly dry the spaces between your toes and fingers after cleaning.
  • Apply cream regularly to dry skin.
  • Support your immune system by eating a balanced diet and getting regular outdoor exercise.

How to get rid of warts again

Warts often disappear on their own. But some types of warts are contagious, disturbing or cause pain. Therefore, there are different ways to get rid of the different types of warts.

Home remedy

In the best case, the wart can be removed with apple cider vinegar, adhesive tape or tea tree oil. However, effectiveness has not been scientifically proven.

  • Solutions and patches with salicylic acid or lactic acid

    Flat warts, prickly warts and individual plantar warts can usually be treated with over-the-counter solutions and patches from the pharmacy. They mostly consist of salicylic acid or lactic acid and soften the horny skin again. The treatment can take weeks to months, depending on the thickness of the wart.

  • Icing the wart

    Flat warts can also be iced with liquid nitrogen at the doctor's office. Through the treatment the wart tissue dies and the wart falls off within a few days.

  • Have 5-fluoracil prescribed

    If the methods listed above do not show any effect, you can have a doctor prescribe a tincture with 5-fluoracil. The active ingredient removes the wart by attacking the skin cells and should therefore be used exactly as directed by a medical professional

  • surgical intervention or laser treatment

    If warts occur in a bed-like manner or with severe proliferation, surgery may be necessary. The warts are removed either surgically or by means of a laser. Especially in the case of plantar warts, wounds can occur which subsequently require several weeks to heal.