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Warts and All

April 26, 1999|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Warts most often affect children and teens. But adults can't rest easy, since these common skin growths can occur at any age. In most cases, warts are benign and harmless.

The human papillomavirus causes warts (no, touching a frog doesn't cause them), and the virus can spread. Exposure to the virus doesn't necessarily mean you'll get warts, however. Although warts tend to form where skin is damaged or broken, they can appear anywhere on the body. Left untreated, they can increase in number and spread beyond the original location.

There are many types of warts. Some of the most common are:

* Common warts: They have a raised, rough surface, and enlarged blood vessels in them look like dots on the warts' surface. They can appear on various parts of the body but most commonly form on the hands.

* Plantar warts: They are flat and appear on the soles of the feet, often making walking or standing painful. When plantar warts form in clusters, they're called mosaic warts.

* Periungal warts: They form under and around fingernails. If you bite your nails, you're more likely to get this type of warts.

* Filiform warts: They are slender, finger-like growths that can dangle from the skin. They most often appear on the face and neck.

Your doctor can tell you which treatments are best for the type of wart you have. Some treatments include:

* Cryotherapy, or the freezing of warts.

* Prescription topical medicines.

* Over-the-counter medicines that contain salicylic acid.

* Laser surgery.

* Injections.

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