Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro
What are warts?
They are small growths of the skin caused by a virus. Contagion often occurs following visits to swimming pools or changing rooms of gyms because the humidity, facilitating the maceration of the skin, makes it easier for the wart to take root. The incubation period is quite long, on average 3 or 4 months. They are more frequent in children and young people, rare in infants and the elderly. Despite being benign in nature, they can be a source of annoyance and concern.
How they present themselves
Their appearance changes according to the type and location. The vulgar or common warts, the most frequent, most often located on the fingers or on the back of the hands, less on the elbows, on the knees, are detected, of varying diameter, with a rounded wrinkled surface of grayish, yellow to brownish-black color. Plantar warts, common at the level of the sole of the foot, appear as a yellowish callus area, roundish just detected (in fact they tend to grow in depth, due to the pressure to which they are subjected), variously painful to pressure. There can be only one warts or several very small warts gathered together to form a kind of mosaic. Warts that grow near the nails are often due to the habit of ” eating ” the nails. Flat warts are small, smooth and barely noticeable and are the most frequent in children.
What should be done
Warts can disappear although slowly even without treatment. The treatment of warts, which may be necessary if there is pain, to avoid spreading the infection to other people and for aesthetic reasons, can be carried out with drugs, with physical means such as intense cold, or through a small surgery. The choice of the most effective treatment in individual cases is generally made by the dermatologist. Reinfections are however very frequent even after effective treatment. Among the drugs available, those based on salicylic acid (eg Duofilm, Verel, Verunec), which prove effective in a high percentage of cases as long as they are used correctly and continuously: the application must be daily and must continue at least a month, often longer, taking care to protect healthy skin around the wart (e.g. with Vaseline). The removal of the wart can also be achieved through physical means such as intense cold (cryotherapy at an outpatient level); the recent availability of a preparation (Wartner method) that uses the same principle, allows you to practice this technique at home. Other treatments, such as the use of drugs such as dinitroclorobenzene, bleomycin, fluorouracil or surgical removal (diathermocoagulation with curettage) and laser therapy are of medical relevance and should be reserved for particular cases.
- To limit the possibility of getting infected, do not walk barefoot on the edges of the pools, in the showers and in the changing rooms.
- To limit the possibility of infection to other people, use personal towels and bathrobes and cover the warts (for example with a plaster) to prevent the spread of the infection.
- In case of periungual warts, avoid ” biting your nails ”, and do not share with other scissors and files.
- Recourse to the doctor is appropriate as well as for the choice of treatment, in case of reappearance of warts after an effective treatment, in refractory cases and in plantar warts more difficult to treat (e.g. mosaic warts).