Different Types of Wart

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Warts are most often benign skin infections that look a bit like a hardened blister and occur as a consequence of one of the many subtypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The human papillomavirus can actually exist in any one of over 130 subtypes, and because of this diversity in the causative virus, there can in fact be many different types of wart. So what are these kinds of warts and how do they differ?

The common wart  (Verruca vulgaris)

The first wart to look at is the appropriately named ‘common wart’, which unsurprisingly is the most commonly occurring type of wart and is scientifically known by the mouthful, ‘Verruca vulgaris’. The common wart is a slightly raised growth with a rough surface that can affect any part of the body, but most often affects the hands. While the common wart can affect people of any age, the condition is most often seen on children and teenagers. The common wart is caused by the human papilloma virus, to which immunity develops over time which is why the condition can more commonly be seen in younger people. While this is generally the case, there are of course exceptions. No two people are alike, and some will have a strong natural resistance to Verruca Vulgaris, while others will be particularly susceptible to the condition and suffer from warts throughout their life.

 For healthy people common warts pose no health risk, but for people suffering from deficiencies or diseases of the immune system, like sufferers of HIV (human immune virus) or AIDS (acute immune deficiency syndrome), the virus can potentially cause further health problems. The common wart will often be dealt with naturally and disappear over time, there are however many treatments and procedures available to deal the condition. These can include, and plasters, gels, or creams with salicylic acid, laser treatments, and injections designed to trigger an immune response against the wart and its causative virus.

The flat wart (Verruca plana)

The flat wart is made distinctive by its appearance, a smooth and flattened growth that has given the condition its name. While common warts tend to present with a white, roughened appearance, a flat wart will appear smooth and skin coloured. Flat warts also tend to present in larger numbers on areas like the face and neck or wrists and knees. Flat warts are also called juvenile warts because of how often they affect children and younger teenagers. Flat warts are caused by specific strains of the human papillomavirus, mostly strains 49, 28, 10, and 3.

These kinds of warts are particularly slow growing, and can take as long as a year to become visible after the original infection, which will often be through a small cut or scratch. Areas that are regularly shaved, and hence regularly subject to minute scratches and tears, can often develop flat warts, which tend to grow in groups of as many as a hundred. Like their more common warty cousins, flat warts tend to be harmless and can be treated simply through topical creams containing salicylic acid amongst other potential treatments.

The filiform/digital wart

Filiform warts have a particularly characteristic appearance and look long and narrow, like flesh coloured fronds that grow quite quickly in clusters around particular areas like the eyelids and lips. These warts are actually a variation of the more common warts, and also tend to be benign. Although it is easier for filiform warts to become sore as they tend to be on areas of skin that are often rubbed.

Genital warts

Genital warts are unsurprisingly quite a sensitive topic to bring up as they can be particularly embarrassing for many people. These kinds of warts tend to be either grey or flesh coloured and occur on and around the genitals, sometimes collecting to form a cauliflower like mass which is particularly unpleasant in appearance and can be the source of considerable self-consciousness and embarrassment.

Plantar warts

Unlike other forms of the condition, plantar warts tend to specifically affect the underside of the foot and can be very painful. These warts form lesions that start off as what look like black pin pricks that quickly turn brown and take on the unpleasant appearance of a head of cauliflower. Plantar warts are painful because as they are on the soles of your feet, they have to take your weight and are pushed into the skin of your feet as you walk. Fortunately most plantar warts disappear on their own, and despite the pain they might cause don’t pose a health risk. Treatments are available if plantar warts are particularly painful as you walk.

Oral warts

As the name tells you, oral warts are afflictions of the mouth and lips that remain harmless and painless unless irritated in some way. Fortunately these warts tend to present either individually or in small numbers, and can be quite hard to spot and can appear in a number of different ways. Some can look like white growths while others can look like fronts. Oral warts are often transmitted during sexual encounters where the causative HPV can be transmitted from the genitals.

Periungual warts

Periungual warts get their unusual name from the areas they afflict, namely skin under your nails. They start off extremely small and will be nigh on impossible to see properly, as time goes on they turn into much larger, roughly pea sized, warts that are rough in texture and feel. At this stage the warts’ size can be a problem, as it can lift up your nail and cause it to detach. These kinds of wart can actually cause a more serious fungal infection by making it into the nail plate, the hard part of your nail made up of mostly keratin.

Seed warts

Seed warts will tend to affect your fingers and the skin around your nails, as well as the skin on the back of your hands. They are very similar to common warts and are distinguished by the characteristic locations in which they grow.

As this article shows, there are many different types of warts that differ in their appearance and in the areas which they like to target. Fortunately most of these tend to be harmless and benign for a healthy person, and effective treatments can actually be procured over the counter. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your warts before proceeding with your treatment, particularly if they are around your genitals, a sensitive area where treatment should always be pursued with extra care.

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