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Medical Offices of Manhattan

What are Warts?

Common warts are raised bumps of rough, grainy skin which appear most often on the hands, feet, or face. They are caused by one of a few strains of the HPV virus, all of which are transmitted through physical touch. These small, noncancerous growths can take as long as several months after HPV infection to appear on the skin and will usually go away on their own, but a dermatologist can assist in removal for patients who find them unsightly or embarrassing.

What Are The Causes of Warts?

Infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) will cause an excess of keratin (a hard protein also found in hair and nails) to accumulate on the outermost layer of the skin. This protein is what causes common warts to have a tough, scaly texture. Infection with HPV occurs from skin-to-skin contact or use of shared objects. Cuts, breaks, or abrasions in the skin are particularly common to infection.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Warts?

Warts appear as small, round bumps on the surface of the skin. The surface of warts usually feels tough and scaly to the touch. They are not usually painful unless picked at, which can cause them to crack and bleed. However, if you do notice pain, bleeding, or any changes in the shape or color of a wart, you should contact a doctor immediately.

What Are The Risk Factors of Warts?

Broken or cut skin is most vulnerable to HPV infection, so common warts frequently appear on regularly shaved parts of the body like the legs or beard area. Biting your nails or other habits that pick at the skin can also increase the risk of developing warts. You may also be at a higher risk if you have a weakened immune system due to something like an autoimmune disorder or certain medications.

How Are Warts Diagnosed?

A dermatologist is usually able to diagnose warts clinically through a visual examination of the affected area. Infrequently, your dermatologist may call for a skin biopsy to verify the diagnosis.

What Are Possible Treatments For Warts?

Possible treatments for common warts include: 

  • Cryotherapy: One of the most common solutions is freezing the wart. This approach is safe, fast, and causes minimal pain. Repeated treatments are often needed.
  • Electrosurgery/Curettage: Burning (electrosurgery) or scraping away (curettage) can be effective methods of removing a common wart, and in some cases removal involves a combination of both.
  • Excision: There are some cases where a dermatologist will cut out the wart.
  • Topical creams: Imiquimod cream and aldara cream can be applied directly to the skin in order to increase your immune system’s ability to fight off warts.

Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Warts?

Warts are spread through contact either skin-to-skin or through a common surface, so hygienic practices like wearing flip flops in public showers or locker rooms or just regularly showering and washing your hands can help. If you have warts, you should avoid picking at them, which can cause bleeding and increase the likelihood of spreading the virus to other areas.

What Are The Risks If Warts Are Left Untreated?

While warts will usually go away on their own eventually, this often takes over a year or two without any intervention. Warts do not pose any health risks, but may be annoying or embarrassing. If a wart is bothering you, don’t hesitate to contact a dermatologist to get it diagnosed and removed.

Meet Medical Offices of Manhattan

Medical Offices of Manhattan is one of NYC's leading multi-specialty medical groups. Located in Midtown East, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Medical Offices of Manhattan specializes in Primary Care, Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, and Podiatry. Medical Offices of Manhattan uses the most innovative methods... Learn More »