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Warts are one of
the commonest virus infections to affect humans. They
are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). There are more than 50 varieties of this small virus. The HPV virus causes certain cells (squamous cells) to multiply rapidly. Squamous cells are most commonly found in skin.
Warts can occur
at any age, but are rare in babies and small children.
They are most common between the ages of 12 and 16.
Most (seven out
of ten) warts are common warts and are easily recognised
as raised, rough growths on the skin, usually the
slightly thicker skin of hands and feet. They may be
single or develop in quite large numbers. Two out of
three disappear within two years of first appearing.
Other varieties include the plantar warts,
found on the soles of the foot. These are not usually
raised but can be quite painful. Plane warts
are smooth and flat, or only slightly raised, and may
appear on the face.
Warts are spread
by direct and indirect contact. However, the time
between contact and the wart appearing, known as the
incubation period, varies greatly. It is often
not possible to know how a child ‘caught’ a wart.
However, it has long been felt that public swimming
pools are a source of plantar warts.
warts is not always easy and treatment failures, or
recurrences, are common. Many can be left alone, but if
the affected person is getting pain, or becoming
self-conscious about the appearance of warts, treatment
may be advised.
(exposure to extreme cold) is one of the effective
treatments for common warts. This is usually provided by
liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide ‘snow’. It can be
painful, which makes it a difficult treatment to give to
ointments and paints are available which will destroy
the thickened skin of warts. These may need to be
applied daily and for quite some time. It is important
to remember that most warts will disappear on their own.
If they are not causing problems, getting rid of them is
not always worth the pain and inconvenience involved.