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The Facts & Myths About Warts



There are several varieties of warts that grow on the skin. These rough tiny patches are often annoying, painful, and embarrassing. They are primarily seen on the feet or hands. However, a wart can be located anywhere on the human body. There are myths concerning how individuals develop warts. One such popular myth is that handling toads can cause warts. This myth likely developed because some species of toads have lumpy skin. However, medical experts understand that it’s not toads that cause warts, but viruses. Viral infections are contagious and can be spread from person to person. Viruses that cause warts usually enter through a cut or scrape on the skin’s surface.

Wart Varieties

A wart occurring on foot soles is called a plantar wart. The lumps often have black specks in their center. Since they typically form near the ball of the foot, plantar warts can cause discomfort. The constant pressure being applied to the wart while walking can be extremely painful.

Clusters of rough growths near the nails that resemble cauliflower are classified as periungual warts. At the onset of growth, periungual warts are actually quite difficult to notice. However, as the wart develops it becomes large and easily detectable to the sufferer. In some cases, the growth becomes so intrusive it causes the affected nail to fall off.

Digitate warts typically occur on the face, around the eyelids, nose, lips, and chin. Digitate warts are particularly pronounced as they grow quite long and often protrude from the skin in a stalk-like manner.

Flat warts usually appear in multiples on the knees, wrist, hands, face, or neck. Flat warts tend to be smooth and are typically flush with the skin. Although similar, this is not a common wart. Common warts develop as lumps on the skin’s surface and are not smooth nor flush with the skin.

Venereal warts develop on the genitalia of sexually active individuals and can only be transmitted through sexual activity.

Prevention and Treatment

Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over 100 varieties of HPV which can cause a wart to develop. The different types of HPV have specialized to affect particular areas of the body. Medical researchers have developed a vaccine to prevent several varieties of human papillomavirus that cause genital warts.

Additionally, over-the-counter products and prescription medications can assist with the removal of warts. Salicylic acid or silver nitrate are common treatments used on common, flat, and plantar warts. Individuals can then use sandpaper to remove the rough bumps of skin. However, these methods should not be used on the face near the eyes or lips or around the genitals. If these treatments are unsuccessful, a physician can remove the wart with laser treatments, cryosurgery, or surgery.

Bizarre Home Remedies

There are quite a few myths concerning the removal of warts. Before physicians learned to treat warts medically, people practiced odd remedies for wart removal. One such remedy involved rubbing the wart with a potato. In another treatment, people would take drops of blood from the wart, place the blood on a split bean, and bury the bean in the ground.

Individuals were instructed to chant rhymes or sing songs while burying the bean. Dipping one’s wart into water collected in a tree stump while saying a poem at midnight was also considered a practical method of wart removal. Surprisingly, these bizarre home remedies were not successful in removing warts. Lucky for us, modern medicine allows the removal of warts without the potato or splits pea.