What are warts or skin tags?

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Warts are raised bumps on your skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Although warts generally aren’t dangerous, they are ugly, potentially embarrassing, and contagious. They can also be painful.

What are the types of warts?

There are five major types of warts. Each type appears on a different part of the body and has a distinct appearance.

Common warts

Common wartsusually grow on your fingers and toes, but can appear elsewhere. They have a rough, grainy appearance and a rounded top. Common warts are grayer than the surrounding skin.

Plantar warts

Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet. Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow into your skin, not out of it. You can tell if you have a plantar wart if you notice what appears to be a small hole in the bottom of your foot that is surrounded by hardened skin. Plantar warts can make walking uncomfortable.

Flat warts

Flat warts usually grow on the face, thighs, or arms. They are small and not immediately noticeable. Flat warts have a flat top, as if they’ve been scraped. They can be pink, brownish, or slightly yellow.

Filiform warts

Filiform warts grow around your mouth or nose and sometimes on your neck or under your chin. They are small and shaped like a tiny flap or tag of skin. Filiform warts are the same color as your skin.

Periungual warts

Periungual warts grow under and around the toenails and fingernails. They can be painful and affect nail growth.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see your doctor if:

  • You have warts on your face or another sensitive part of your body (e.g., genitals, mouth, nostrils)
  • You notice bleeding or signs of infection, such as pus or scabbing, around a wart
  • The wart is painful
  • The color of the wart changes
  • You have warts and diabetes or an immune deficiency, such as HIV/AIDS

Some things to remember:

You can spread warts to other parts of your body, and they are contagious to others. If a treatment requires that you rub the wart with a fingernail file or a pumice stone, don’t use that utensil on any other part of your body, and don’t allow anyone else to use it.

Don’t try to treat warts on your feet if you have diabetes. See your doctor. Diabetes can cause loss of sensation in your feet, so you can easily injure yourself without realizing it.

Don’t try to remove warts on your face or another sensitive part of your body (such as your genitals, mouth, or nostrils) with at-home treatments.

What can my doctor do about warts?

If your wart doesn’t respond your doctor may be able to help. Remember, always see your doctor if you have diabetes and have warts on your feet body face and neck.

Liquid nitrogen

Your doctor may freeze your wart with liquid nitrogen. This can be a bit painful, but usually works well. More than one treatment may be required. Freezing causes a blister to form under and around your wart. This lifts the wart away from the skin within about a week.

Surgery

Surgery is only and best treatmentfor wart and skin tag removal. Your doctor can cut away your wart or skin tag with a surgical knife or burn it with radio frequency laser. You’ll need to receive a shot of local anesthetic first, and these shots are not painful.

Can warts be prevented?

There are ways to prevent warts and keep them from spreading to other parts of your body if you already have one. Follow these simple guidelines:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially if you’ve been in contact with someone with warts.
  • Don’t pick at your warts.
  • Cover warts with a bandage.
  • Keep your hands and feet dry.
  • Wear shower shoes (flip-flops) when in a locker room or communal bathing facility

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