What Causes Warts, and Do They Go Away on Their Own?

 Warts, Dermatology, plantar warts, wart treatment, cryotherapy, electrotherapy

It’s true that many warts eventually go away on their own, but it can take months to years for that to happen. Also, because warts spread with skin-to-wart contact, you may find a new wart appearing as an old one fades.

Most warts aren’t painful, but their appearance can be bothersome. Warts that develop in an area where there’s a lot of pressure, such as plantar warts on the bottoms of your feet, can also develop a calloused overlay of skin and cause pain every time you step down or “plant” your foot.

At Stoll Dermatology, board-certified dermatologist Dr. David Stoll has significant experience in treating warts. They’re one of the most common skin growths for which his patients seek care. Dr. Stoll offers a variety of effective treatments for getting rid of warts and stopping their spread.

What causes warts?

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are about 150 types of HPV, but only a few cause warts on hands or fingers (common warts), which can easily spread to other areas. Other types of HPV cause warts on the bottoms of your feet (plantar warts).

The virus infects the top layer of your skin, usually gaining access through a small break or weakened area in the skin. Biting your nails, for instance, can increase your risk of warts. As it matures, HPV causes skin cells to multiply very rapidly, which forms the bump or warty growth on the skin’s surface.

How am I exposed to the wart virus?

The HPV types that cause common warts and plantar warts are plentiful in the environment. The virus can survive for some time on towels, razors, and other moist surfaces.

Locker rooms and communal showers, like those you find at public swimming pools, are also hospitable to the virus. You can limit your exposure in these areas by slipping on a pair of swim shoes, even flip-flops, to help prevent contact with the virus via the soles of your feet.

The virus also spreads through casual skin contact, such as touching a wart. It may be present for up to six months before a growth appears on the surface of your skin.

How do I know it’s a wart?

As a skin care expert, Dr. Stoll can usually determine whether a skin growth is a wart by its characteristics. You may find it difficult to identify a wart, however, because their appearance can vary widely.

Warts appear on the surface of the skin and are usually painless unless they grow in an area that’s used frequently and becomes irritated, such as on the sides or tips of your fingers. A wart can be flat and smooth or raised and rough. You may notice just one wart or have a cluster of these white, pink, tan, or flesh-colored bumps.

Do warts go away on their own?

Most warts eventually resolve on their own as the virus runs its course, but that can take months to years. If you are bothered by the appearance of a wart or are experiencing discomfort at the site, Dr. Stoll can provide treatment that resolves the wart relatively quickly. Treatment also helps prevent you from spreading warts to other people or to different areas on your own body.  

Treatment for warts may include:

If you aren’t sure that bump on your skin is a wart or if you’d like treatment for what you know is a warty growth, schedule a visit to Stoll Dermatology today. Call the office in Beverly Hills, California, or book your appointment online.

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