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Today it is estimated that around one in ten persons develop common warts at some point in their life and four in ten persons develop at least one common wart during their life time.

Common warts

Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This virus causes rapid proliferation of the skin cells, resulting in the development of benign lumps, which are annoying but not dangerous in most cases and always highly contagious. There are more than 70 subtypes of HPV that can cause warts. The different types of the virus cause warts at various parts of the human body. The virus is transmitted through direct skin contact or through the contact with wet surfaces.

After the initial contact, HPV may remain inactive or at a latent state on the skin, and its symptoms may not be immediately visible. This means that many people may be carriers of HPV without even knowing it. It may even take several months to develop a wart.

The warts usually appear when there is a large slit on the skin of infected with HPV person, or in areas where the skin is exposed to excessive moisture, such as sweaty feet. A slit in the skin can be caused by cuts from shaving, nail-biting and nail cuticles, cracked skin and eczema.

Today it is estimated than one in ten persons has warts at some point of life and one in four experiences at least appearance of one wart at some point of their lives. The warts are the most common dermatological problem after acne.

Although we are all exposed to HPV, some people seem to be more sensitive to the virus, while others are intrinsically more resistant.

The warts are more common when the body’s immune system is weakened.

Warts are more likely to appear on children and adolescents, as they have not developed antibodies against it (yet).

Treatment with steroids is also a factor that contributes in the likelihood of developing warts. Similarly, people who suffer from diseases that suppress the activity of the immune system, such as HIV infection, are more likely to have warts.

Most warts appear during the summer, due to increased contact in activities such as swimming and camping.

Dermatologists see more often two types of warts: the common wart and verruca feet. Common warts usually grow on fingers, on the back of the palm of the hands and feet. The warts of the feet, also called verruca usually appear on the soles.


Types of warts

  • Verruca Vulgaris
  • Verruca Plantaris
  • Flat juvenile warts
  • Verruca plana
  • Verruca filiformis
  • Condyloma acuminatum
  • Disseminated warts

Verruca vulgaris

Common warts are benign lumps consisted of a hard-core skin and they are painless. The common wart looks like a hard lump with irregular surface, similar to the cauliflower. The warts may be round or have an irregular shape, flat or bulging, while they can reach the size of a pea. They may have white, gray or brown colour. Common warts usually grow around the nails, on fingers and on the back of the hand. Sometimes they might also appear on the knees and on the face, especially in places where the skin is torn.

Should warts be treated?

Approximately 50% of symptoms disappear within two years if no treatment is followed. As warts are caused by a virus, the body creates antibodies over time and warts disappear.

This process may last for several months or even years. Nevertheless, warts are contagious and may spread to other parts of the body or they may be transmitted to other people. This is why the best choice is to treat a wart as soon as possible.

Apart from this warts can be really annoying, while warts on the feet may be really painful and some may even bleed if you hurt your leg. Moreover, they look bad and may make a person feel uncomfortable if, for instance, they appear on their hands or face. Treatment can reduce the chances of transmission.

About the author:

Christofer Tzermias

Specialised in the UK (Oxford & London) and in North America (New York & San Diego) in the field of LASER Dermatology, Dr Tzermias, has been providing dermatological state-of-the-art treatments using cutting-edge LASER and Energy based Devices for over 20 years. He has been Director of Interventional and LASER Dermatology Department at the Athens Medical Center for over 18 years and for the last 9 years is the Scientific Director of IQ - Intensive Quality Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics, which at the 2017 Healthcare Awards won the ‘Innovation Award for Innovative Services’ for their pioneering contributions. Since 2018, IQ Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics has also been operating in London, UK and in Muscat, Oman. Dr Tzermias is a Fellow of the world-renowned American Society for LASER Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), a Founder Member of the European Society LASER Dermatology (ESLD), the Vice President of the ‘Open Health Alliance’ and he is also on the Board of Directors of Elitour - Greek Medical Tourism Council.

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