Warts (for Teens)

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What are warts?

Warts are small skin infections caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. Although they are more common in children, adolescents and adults can also get warts. Sometimes warts are sexually transmitted and appear in the genital area . But most warts affect the fingers, hands, and toes.

What are the types of warts?

The types of warts include the following:

Common warts. They are usually found on the fingers, hands, knees, and elbows. A common wart is a small, hard, round-shaped bump that is usually grayish-brown in color. It has a rough surface that can look like the head of a cauliflower with black dots inside.

Flat warts. They are about the size of the head of a pin, they are smoother than other types of warts, and the tops are flat. Flat warts can be pink, light brown, or yellow. Most flat warts appear on the face, but they can grow anywhere on the body and can appear in groups.

Plantar warts. They are found on the soles of the feet and can be very uncomfortable. Maybe you feel like you have a stone in your shoe.

Filiform warts. These are finger-shaped and are usually flesh-colored. They often grow in or near the mouth, eyes, or nose.

What Causes Warts?

The HPV viruses that cause warts can be spread from person to person by physical contact or by touching something that a person with warts touched, such as a towel, a bath mat, or the floor of a shower.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

The amount of time that passes from when a person is exposed to the HPV virus until a wart appears varies. But warts tend to grow very slowly and can take many months to develop.

How long do warts last?

Warts are different for each person. Over time, many warts go away on their own.

In general, with treatment, warts can be removed within a few weeks, but they can reappear if the virus that causes them remains on the skin.

How are warts treated?

Warts can be treated in several ways:

  • Over the counter drugs. They contain acids that are applied to the wart. Acids are peeling agents that remove dead skin cells from the wart and cause the wart to eventually fall off. Over-the-counter treatments should not be used on the face or genitals without first consulting a doctor, because some of them can damage the skin.
  • Cryosurgery. The doctor freezes the wart with liquid nitrogen. This treatment is usually done in the doctor’s office.
  • Laser surgery It can be used for warts that are difficult to remove.

Within a few days after a doctor’s treatment, small warts usually fall off, although more than one treatment may be necessary. Treatment may take longer if the warts are larger.

Over-the-counter treatments may take longer than doctor’s office treatments, but can be used as an initial treatment on the hands or feet. Your doctor may also direct you to use an over-the-counter treatment if you’ve had a procedure done in his office.

You may have heard that plumbing tape can be used to remove warts. Talk to your doctor to see if it’s okay for you to do this type of home treatment.

What I can do to feel better?

Most warts can be treated at home:

  • Soak the wart in warm water and remove dead skin from the wart surface with a file (never to be used for nails) before applying the medication. Be careful not to file the healthy skin around the wart.
  • Keep the wart area covered while the medicine works.
  • Don’t rub, scratch, or touch the wart. Doing so could spread the virus to another part of the body or cause the wart to become infected.
  • Do not share towels or other personal items with other people.

Can I prevent warts?

Not all warts can be prevented. But it’s always a good idea to wash your skin regularly and carefully. If you cut or scratch your skin, be sure to use soap and water because open wounds are at higher risk of developing warts and other infections.

You should also wear waterproof sandals in public showers, locker rooms, and public swimming pools (this can also help protect you from other infections, such as athlete’s foot ).

If you have a wart, don’t rub, scratch, or touch it because you can spread the virus to another part of your body or infect the wart.

When should I call the doctor?

While warts go away on their own over time, your doctor should see the wart and recommend a treatment method if necessary.

If you discover a wart on your face or genitals, call your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment for those areas that are very sensitive.

You should also call your doctor if a wart or the skin around it has the following characteristics:

  • pain
  • flushing
  • bleeding
  • inflammation
  • suppuration