Warts – Overview

August 29th, 2010

Warts are one of the most common skin diseases I encounter in both my The Woodlands dermatology and Conroe dermatology offices.  All warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and there are over 100 different types of the HPV virus, thus there are many different clinical presentations of warts.  Warts are infectious/contagious and one wart can give rise to many more warts on one person and others can contract warts through direct contact with the wart.  Typically, a specific type of wart will infect only one area of the body.  For instance, hand warts are due to HPV 2 and will usually remain confined to the hands.  Whereas, warts on the feet are caused by HPV 1 and are difficult to transfer to other areas on the body.  It is very difficult for a patient to prevent the warts from spreading to other areas on their body, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as a wart is discovered.  Occasionally, patients spread warts on the skin by scratching them, which leads to almost a single file line of warts.  Another way of warts spreading through self-inoculation, is using a razor such as shaving the legs or face.  The razor spreads the warts across the shaved area.  Thus, during treatment of warts patients are instructed to use a new disposable razor nightly.  As there are many types of warts, most have different clinical appearances.  Warts on the feet are usually flat with the skin and if one inspects closely the skin lines are disrupted, which is characteristic of almost all warts.  The “seeds” in the warts are actually blood vessels which appear as dark puncta in the warts.  Hand warts are usually raised and protrude from the skin.  Facial warts (HPV 3) are generally flat and have a pink hue.