What are warts?
Warts are the result of infection in the keratin producing cells of the skin. The human papilloma virus, the
virus which causes warts, is a small collection of DNA that can only be seen with an electron microscope. It has the
ability to remain dormant for long periods of time. When the environmental conditions are right, the virus
multiplies in the nucleus of its host cell, causing a warty-like tumor which is visible to the naked eye.
More than ninety different variations of the wart virus have been identified to date. Each one is a little different.
Depending on where the infected cells are growing, these viruses can produce tumors (warts) with many clinically
Since warts are not easily identified by their specific genotypes, they are usually grouped by three methods:
clinical similarities, anatomical location, or method of transmission. Some examples include:
- Flat warts, filiform warts or thread warts
- Verruca vulgaris (the common wart)
- Plantar warts (occurring on the bottom or plantar surface of the foot)
- Periungual warts (occurring around the nails)
- Mucosal warts (occurring of a mucosal membrane)
- Venereal warts (sexually transmitted warts)
What do warts look like?
Let's look at some examples of warts.
How can warts be treated?
The key to successful wart therapy lies in activating your local immune system to recognize the
presence of the virus. Once activated, your body can respond and destroy the wart virus. At least thirty different forms of
therapy are currently available, but none of them are uniformly effective or suitable for everyone. The
course of therapy selected by the physician is often determined according to the location of the warts, the number
of warts present, the age of the patient, and the patient's perceived pain tolerance. Previous unsuccessful
therapies, parental preferences, patient's availability, cost, insurance coverage and personal convenience can
all be taken into consideration as well. The general rule is to never make the treatment worse than the disease.