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Warts - Information About Common Warts, Plantar Warts, and Genital Warts

Warts: In this section we will discuss three types of warts. Common warts, plantar warts, and genital warts. Although these types of warts are similar in many ways they also have distinct differences. They should each be treated differently.

What is a wart?

A wart is a small bump on the skin caused by a virus that infects the top layer of skin cells. This virus is contracted and lies dormant in the body. Periodically the virus will infect layers of the skin resulting in a wart. Removing the wart does not remove the virus from the body but it does remove the unsightly growth and can reduce the discomfort.

  • Common warts occur on the fingers, back of hands, arms, top of feet and other areas of the body. They are usually free of pain. Common warts occur in people of all ages.
  • Plantar warts occur on the bottom of the feet. They are spotted in appearance due to blood vessels that have become clotted within the wart. Plantar warts can be painful.
  • Genital warts are small flesh-colored or pink bumps that appear on the genitals or anus. They are a common sexually transmitted disease. The virus that causes genital warts is called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is transmitted most often due to sexual contact. The greatest risk associated with genital warts is cervical cancer. It is also associated with an increased risk of anal-rectal and penile cancer although these diseases are much rarer than cervical cancer.


  • Common warts can be treated with an over the counter treatment that contains salicylic acid. These treatments come in a liquid like compound-w and a pad such as these pads by Dr. Scholls. The liquids are convenient for all areas. The pads which are similar to a band-aid are nice for fingers and toes. A doctor can also remove a common wart using a number of simple surgical procedures.
  • Plantar Warts: Can be treated with over the counter treatments like compound W. If the pain of having the wart is severe you might want to speak to your doctor about having the wart removed.
  • Genital Warts: If you suspect you have genital warts you should consult your doctor. Do not try to self-treat this problem. Women need to have some tests done to examine the cervix and vagina for symptoms of even more serious problems. Genital warts can be treated with some prescription medications. Your physician can also remove genital warts with specific procedures. Women with genital warts should consult with their physician at very regular intervals. Men and women with genital warts should always use a condom.
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