Warts are small, hard mounds of flesh that may resemble miniature cauliflowers. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a family of viruses that includes about 150 strains.
The medical name for warts is verruca vulgaris. Types of warts include:
- Plantar warts (on the soles of feet)
- Common warts (usually appear on the hands)
- Genital warts (found on the genitalia)
- Flat warts
At Specialists in Dermatology, with offices in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, our team of caring and compassionate dermatologists removes bothersome warts so that you feel good about your skin again. They also help you understand your warts and provide you with facts to counteract some of the common myths about warts, such as:
Myth: Warts are rare
Warts affect about 10-20% of women, men, and children worldwide. You’re more likely to develop warts if you’re immunocompromised or if you have open sores or wounds on your skin.
Myth: Warts are a sign of cancer
Warts aren’t a sign of cancer. In fact, warts are benign growths. Even though they’re caused by a strain of HPV, the strains that create warts aren’t the same strains that cause various cancers, including cervical cancer.
However, if you have genital warts, you may also be infected with another strain of HPV. Be sure to see your doctor to get tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases (i.e., STIs and STDs) if you notice any growths on or around your genitalia.
Myth: Warts are not contagious
Unfortunately, because warts are caused by HPV, they can be spread by person-to-person contact. Although warts aren’t as contagious as the viruses that cause common colds, you must still be aware that you could infect another person who touches your warts.
You should also take care when touching your own warts. You could inadvertently spread your warts by touching them and then touching another part of your body. Always wash your hands after you touch your warts.
Myth: Genital warts are not really warts
Genital warts are warts. Like warts on other parts of your body, they’re caused by an infection with HPV. Genital warts are usually spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex or other types of intimate touch.
If you have oral sex with somebody who has genital warts, you could develop warts inside or around your mouth. Genital warts are highly contagious. Avoid sexual contact when you have a wart outbreak and always wear a condom. Be sure to get tested for other STIs and STDs, too.
Myth: All warts are the same
The different types of warts are actually caused by different strains of HPV. For instance, cystic warts are caused by type 60 HPV, while flat warts are caused by types 3, 10, and 28. Treatment for warts, however, is the same or similar no matter which strain of HPV caused them.
Myth: Warts disappear on their own
Although warts may resolve on their own after a few weeks — even without treatment — once a wart is gone, it isn’t gone for good. Warts recur, even after they’ve been removed. You may not have warts for a while, but that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared.
HPV infections can’t yet be cured. That means, over time, your warts will recur.
Myth: You have to live with your warts
Even though you can’t cure warts and the HPV infection that causes them, you don’t have to be uncomfortable or self-conscious when you have a wart outbreak. Your warts may also itch or become irritated, if they’re located in a body fold or other sensitive area. At Specialists in Dermatology, we remove your warts with a variety of treatment options, including:
- Curettage (i.e., scraping them off)
- Topical treatments (e.g., salicylic acid, tretinoin, or cantharidin)
- Laser treatments
- Chemical peels
Don’t hide your warts or put up with itching or pain. If you want to remove warts, start by contacting us today at Specialists in Dermatology for warts treatment.