Common skin warts are raised oval growths on the skin that are caused by a
virus (human papillomavirus [HPV]). They can be skin-colored or darker. Some
warts may have tiny black dots in them which are actually clotted blood vessels.
One can be infected by the virus by direct contact with the wart, i.e. by touching
or rubbing your skin against it. The virus is more likely to infect injured or
softened (usually by water/moisture) skin. It can take up to six months for a
wart to develop after exposure.
Skin warts are most commonly seen in children and young adults. People who
handle meat, fish and poultry frequently are also infected with the virus more
often. Not because the virus is present in these products but because their hands
are often wet and the virus could easily infect their skin. People with chronic
conditions such as eczema or a weakened immune system (e.g. AIDS or post-
organ transplant) are also prone to developing warts.
Common skin warts are often seen on the fingers, hands, knees and elbows.
When they are located around the nails, they are called periungual warts. These
warts enlarge and affect nail growth if left untreated.
Warts on the soles of the feet are called “plantar warts.” They can be
particularly bothersome because they can be painful and deep rooted which
makes it difficult to walk. Warts that infect the genital area are called “genital
warts.” These are sexually transmitted and may be a leading cause of cervical
cancer in women. An HPV vaccine is now available to protect sexually active
women from this virus.
Flat warts are commonly seen on the face. Several people come to a clinic, even
salons, to have their facial warts removed.
What can mimic a wart on the face? There are many lesions that can be
mistaken for a facial wart. The most common of them would be moles and a
benign growth on the skin commonly seen in Asians – Filipinos in particular –
and blacks called “dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN)” or seborrheic keratosis.
DPN’s are very common among kabayans and I would say the most common
lesion mistaken for a “wart.” Fortunately, removing a wart and a DPN requires
the same method. However, DPNs are not caused by a virus and are not
Many treatment regimens are available for warts but it depends upon where the
wart is located and how much it bothers the person.
Home treatment regimens discussed online, such as salicylic acid, may be
beneficial to many types of warts if used correctly. People with neuropathies,
nerve damage that causes numbness, should not use these home remedies.
There are also prescription treatments available. Cautery is a favorite treatment
for warts, especially among Filipinos; this should be performed only by a
You also have to be sure it is a wart that is being removed. Recurrences may be
alarming and if you are not properly advised, this can be a stressful situation.
You should consult your healthcare provider if:
You are not sure if your skin growth is a wart.
Your skin wart did not improve with home treatment regimens.
You would like to use home treatment, but you are not sure which
treatment is right for you.
You have been treated for warts and have developed signs of a skin
infection, such as redness, pain, or pus-like drainage from the treated
— — — — — — — —
Dr. Benjamin B. Bince is a Specialist Dermatologist at THE MEDICAL CITY
located at Al Diyafah Street, Jumeirah First, beside Enoc Petrol Station,
Contact No. 04-3434265, 055 135 4820 website: www.samatmc.ae