What causes warts? Since almost every individual will become a host to warts at one time or another, the question comes as no surprise for health experts. Add in the fact that warts look unsightly, thus, marring the beauty of flawless skin and we have every reason to ask the question.
Of course, said question has several implications. We should not only talk about the causes of warts in their many forms but also about their treatments and prevention methods. In this article, we shall discuss these aspects of warts so as to provide readers with a comprehensive view of such a common skin disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Warts?
Before we discuss what causes warts, let’s first discuss their symptoms. Warts can be mistaken for other skin disorders that, in turn, will have significant impact on the efficacy of treatment. For example, corns and calluses can often be mistaken for warts and vice versa. Most warts look like small, fleshy and grainy bumps on various parts of the body from the hands and elbows to the knees and feet.
These are often rough to the touch especially when significantly protruding from the skin’s surface although other warts can also be as flat as a crepe. These are also of different coloration than the surrounding skin with colors ranging from dark flesh and tan to white and pink.
What Causes Warts?
Let’s proceed to answering the question of what causes warts. All types of warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) of which there are nearly 200 known types. It should be emphasized that majority of HPVs cause little to no symptoms in most individuals but many can cause a wide variety of illnesses including cancers of the reproductive system in men and women. And of course, we now know that HPV causes warts – not toads and frogs, as folklore says.
Yet another misconception borne of folklore is that simply touching a wart on another person will cause warts to appear on the other individual. Each person reacts differently to HPV, which means that you may or may not develop warts; when you do develop warts, your condition will vary in terms of severity, frequency and duration of said skin bumps.
Still, we must emphasize that HOV is transmitted via close physical contact with an infected person or with the infected person’s personal things. The virus is passed from one person to the next as well as from one part of the body to the next. Indeed, the question of what causes warts is often not as important as how it is transmitted.
Transmission of the virus occurs most often through an opening in the skin’s surface. A tiny cut, a small scratch and any other small opening in the skin serves as the entry point for HPV to enter the body. The incubation period for HPV differs from one person to the next with most people developing the symptoms of warts in several weeks.
What are the Types of Warts?
Now that the question of what causes warts has been answered, let’s move on the types of warts. It is important to distinguish one from the other since the options and risks as well as the urgency of treatment are different. The types of warts as stated on the U.S. National Library of Medicine are:
- Common warts may look like small cauliflower heads with black dots inside the heads, thus, giving these small, hard and dome-shaped bumps their characteristic grayish-brown color. These are usually seen on the hands, elbows and knees either in singles and multiples.
- Flat warts are smoother bumps with flat tops. These can have pink, brown or yellow colors with sizes no more than a pinhead. Unfortunately, these warts can grow on faces as well as on hands, arms and knees.
- Plantar warts are probably the most painful type. These are found on the bottom of the foot, thus, leading to the sensation of stepping on a small sharp stone when walking.
- Filiform warts grow in and around the mouth, eyes and nose. These usually blend in with the skin although their shapes – like fingers – make them conspicuous, too.
- Genital warts are sexually transmitted infections that usually appear in and around the genitals as well as the anus. These have been linked to high risks for cancer of the vagina, vulva and cervix in women.
What are the Treatments? Causes Warts
As previously mentioned, the question of what causes warts is as important as the question of what are its most effective treatments. It is worth mentioning that warts are generally harmless so doctors can skip on the treatments.
However, individuals can choose from among the various treatment options when the warts are painful, swollen or reddish. When warts begin to bleed blood or ooze pus, haste must be exercises in seeing a doctor for medical and surgical treatment methods. In many cases, the warts can simply fall off or respond to home remedies.
For cases where home remedies simply will not do, then medical and surgical methods are imperative. These treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription antifungal medications, cryosurgery and laser as well as surgical excision. Unfortunately, what causes warts – the human papillomavirus – remains dormant in the body so warts can still reappear at a later period.
The good news is that the risks for recurrence of warts can be lessened with proper hygiene. Preventive measures include avoidance of brushing, clipping and shaving the areas with warts; keeping your feet dry; and avoidance of sharing personal items with others.
Ultimately, the answer to the question of what causes warts should lead you to asking the more important questions of how to treat it and prevent its spread.