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Warts and Verrucas

Warts and Verrucas (Plantar Warts) are very common non-cancerous growths of the skin caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a DNA virus. More than 100 HPV subtypes are known, giving rise to a variety of presentations. An individual can be infected with warts through skin contact. It can also spread from one part of the body to the other parts of the body by autoinnoculation.  Both men and women of different ages can be affected by HPV. The risk of infection is higher if the skin barrier surface had trauma.  The virus finds its way into the body and becomes parasitic to keratinocites, causing skin cells to mutate and grow.

Most types of warts are easy to identify because they have a distinctive appearance. You should always see your GP if you have a growth on your skin you are unable to identify or are worried about. You should visit your GP if you have a wart that bleeds, changes in appearance, spreads and causes you significant pain and distress.

Common warts are firm, raised growth with rough surface resembling a small cauliflower. They range in size and they are typically found on the backs of fingers or toes, palms of hands and on the knees.

Plane, or flat, warts are often seen on the face or limbs and under the arms and can be very numerous.

Filiform warts extend upwards from the surface of the skin, and they have spike-like projections which branch outwards from the surface of the wart itself. They can be yellow, brown or skin-toned and typically form around eyelids, lips, neck and fingers. HPV 1,2,4,27 and 29 strains are imiplicated.

Verrucas (Plantar warts) are usually found on the soles of your feet and are caused by HPV2 and HPV4 strains. They may also have tiny black dots in the centre and can be painful when you put weight on them. They tend to look quite flat because of the pressure put upon them.

Warts are contageous. They can easily spread by contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. You can be at risk if you skin is broken, wet and your immunity is low.  Exercise obvious precautions: do not touch other people's blemishes, do not share towels, wear flip-flops in communal showers, cover your  wart/verruca with a waterproof plaster.  Warts can be treated by electrolysis. Depending on their type and location more than one treatment may be needed.

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