Warts: types and treatments

Warts are skin and sometimes mucosal lesions caused by some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are spread by direct person-to-person contact or through objects.

Are there several types of warts?

  • Verruca vulgaris: these are keratotic excrescences that usually appear on the hands or singly on any part of the body.
  • Palmar or plantar warts: these are flat, callus-like warts that, unlike calluses, interrupt the fingerprints and are painful when pressed laterally.
  • Flat warts: as their name indicates, they are small flat papules on the face, mainly present in children or young people.
  • Filiform warts: they are linear, small in the commissure areas. Not to be confused with acrochordons on the neck or armpits.
  • Condylomata acuminata: these are warts like soft skin excrescences that occur in periorificial genital and/or anal areas. They can degenerate to mucinous carcinoma.
  • Bowenoid papulosis: they present as pigmented papules of the genital area. They can degenerate to cutaneous carcinomas.

It is therefore important to recognize the type and not to confuse them with other processes. They must be treated by a dermatologist.

What are the treatments for warts?

There are many and varied for each type. In general, the following are recommended:

  • Electrocoagulation and curettage or CO2 laser: in excrescent warts on the back of the hands, filiform warts, condylomas and bowenoid papulosis.
  • Keratolytics: such as salicylic acid, urea, lactic acid, nitric acid, etc., at different concentrations, on palmar or plantar warts. They are applied by means of callicide type patches or in gel or solution.
  • Topical retinoids: in flat warts, although they usually involute spontaneously with time.
  • Podophyllotoxin: genital warts.
  • Topical chemotherapy: such as 5-fluouracil or imiquimod in bowenoid papulosis and condylomas.
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The treatment of warts is very specialized, and requires a very experienced professional because they are usually recurrent.