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Planning Retirement Online

Warts and all

February 2012


Warts and allAround three quarters of people develop a wart at some point in their lives. Young people are most at risk because as we age, we develop our immune system which helps to fight them off; but warts can in fact affect all ages.

Warts are small and usually painless growths on the skin. They are really a skin infection caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV); generally they are harmless and around 30% of them disappear by themselves within six months. Even if they last longer than this, the majority will finally disappear within three years without the need for treatment.

It is easy to spot a wart - a raised round or oval growth on the skin with a rough surface. While people generally think of warts as very dark brown, in fact warts can be much lighter and totally black warts are quite unusual.

The common wart (or verrucae vulgaris) has a rough surface and is usually between 2mm and 10 mm in diameter. They are most common on fingers, elbows, knees, the face and head.

Other types of warts include digitate warts which usually appear around the hairline on the head; periungual warts which can occur in clusters around the finger nails, and faliform warts which are long, narrow and tend to grown on the eyelids, face, neck or lips. Other types of warts are plantar warts which are usually on the soles of the feet and therefore can become painful because of the constant pressure and wear and genital warts which can affect both men and women.

Warts are generally very slow growing and many people simply ignore them.

However, sometimes the size, number or location of warts can be unsightly and cause embarrassment in which case there are a number of over the counter remedies you can buy at your local pharmacist for the treatment of most warts (not genital warts), or you can talk to your doctor about their removal. There are various ways of removing warts including through surgical removal, freezing (cryotherapy), burning (electrocautery) or laser treatment.

If a wart gives any pain, if it changes in colour or in appearance, or if there is any bleeding, then it is important to see your doctor. The doctor may cut into the wart to confirm it is not a corn or callus and there is no skin cancer present.

If you suffer from warts, it is also a good idea to try and boost your natural immune system by ensuring good nutrition, sleep and exercise, all those basics to keep you as fit as possible. But at the end of the day, both fit and less well people have been known to develop warts, so there is no guaranteed way to avoid them.


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