Common warts are small skin growths that occur on the hands, fingers and other parts of the body. These grainy bumps often feature black dots called seeds, which are actually small blood clots. Children and young adults are more susceptible to common warts than older individuals.
Genital warts are small, flesh-colored growths that affect the moist genital tissues. These bumps have a cauliflower appearance and are often too small to see. Half of all sexually active people get genital warts at some time in their lives.
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 different types of this virus, and each causes different types of warts. Most viruses are harmless, although some may cause cancer and other serious diseases.
Wart viruses are contagious. Common warts are generally spread from person to person through touch. Children, young adults and people with weak immune systems are most at risk for getting warts. Common warts often disappear on their own, in time.
Genital warts are the most common of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some HPV strains cause genital warts while others lead to cancer. Some strains can be prevented with vaccines.
Treatment and Prevention
Common warts may not need treatment at all. Most warts disappear on their own. However, people often seek treatment for cosmetic reasons or because their warts are bothersome.
Non-prescription drugs, duct tape and other home remedies are usually effective for wart removal. When home treatments do not work, doctors can treat warts with freezing, also called liquid nitrogen therapy or cryotherapy. Minor surgery is another treatment option. Wart removal surgery involves cutting away the affected tissue or burning it with an electrical current.
Genital warts require different treatments than other types of warts. Prescription medication is the most common method of genital wart removal. Imiquimod cream, trichloroacetic acid and podofilox or podophyllin solutions are typical prescription treatments.
Homeopathic remedies like Wartrol and tea tree oil are also popular for wart removal. The ingredients in Wartrol work naturally to eliminate genital warts without a high concentration of tea tree oil to irritate the skin. Artemisia, cedar leaf oil and other natural plant extracts are common alternative wart treatments.
The removal of large genital warts may require surgery. Like common warts, genital warts can be removed through cryotherapy, electrocautery and surgical incisions. Laser treatments are more expensive than other surgeries, and they are usually reserved for severe wart cases.
Common warts are best prevented by good hygiene and careful grooming. Condom use during sexual activity can reduce the risk of genital warts. A vaccine is now available to prevent the genital warts that cause cervical cancer.