Finger Wart
Most warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that can be passed through direct contact.

Finger or common warts spread through direct contact with the contagious human papillomavirus (HPV). However, they are not sexually transmitted (cannot spread through sexual contact).

Finger warts, also called common warts, are small, grainy, rough-textured skin growths.

Common warts usually occur on the fingers or hands and may disappear eventually. These warts are:

  • Harmless
  • Caused by HPV
  • Small with black pinpoints, clotted blood vessels
  • Transmitted by touch, physical contact, or through shared objects, such as towels or washcloths

What are warts?

Warts are tiny skin infections caused by viruses belonging to the human papillomavirus family.

Five types of warts

  1. Common warts:
    • Small, hard, dome-shaped, and gray-brown
    • Typically affect fingers, hands, knees, and elbows
    • Have a rough surface, which could resemble the head of a cauliflower, with black dots inside
  2. Flat warts:
    • Smooth with flat tops and about the size of a pinhead
    • Could be pink, light brown, or yellow
    • Are seen on the face, but they can grow anywhere and appear in clusters
  3. Plantar warts: Found most often on the bottom (soles) of the foot and can be very uncomfortable
  4. Filiform warts: Flesh-colored, have a fingerlike shape, and often grow on or around the mouth, eyes, or nose
  5. Genital warts: Small, flesh-colored, pink, or red growths, found in the pubic area, on the genitals, in or around the anus, and/or in the vagina

What causes warts?

Most warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that can be passed from person to person by close physical contact or from touching something that a person with a wart touches, such as a towel, bath mat, or shower floor.

  • HPV has hundreds of different strains, and certain types can cause warts in the genital area (a sexually transmitted disease)
  • These viruses usually spread through breaks in the skin, such as a cut, hangnail, or scrape
  • Biting the nails can cause warts to spread on the fingertips or around the nails
  • Warts usually grow very slowly and may even take months to develop

Certain people are at a high risk of developing common warts, including:

  • Children
  • Young adults
  • People with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS or who had organ transplants

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How are warts treated?

Many warts disappear on their own and may return if the virus causing them stays in the body.

Warts can be treated in several ways, such as:

  • Over-the-counter medicines:
    • Peeling agents containing acids (salicylic acid) remove the dead skin cells of the wart and cause them to fall off.
    • Should not be used on the face or genitals without consulting a doctor.
  • Cryosurgery (freezing): An outpatient procedure in which a doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. This method works by causing a blister to form under and around the wart. The dead tissue eventually sloughs off within a week.
  • Laser surgery: This procedure is often used for warts that are hard to remove.

4 tips to handle warts at home

Four tips and home remedies to handle warts at home include:

  1. Soak the wart in warm water, and then, remove dead skin on the surface of the wart with an emery board before the application of medicine
  2. Keep the area (wart) covered
  3. Do not rub, scratch, or pick at the wart
  4. Avoid sharing towels or other personal belongings with others

When to consult a doctor

Although with time many warts disappear on their own, it is a good idea to consult a doctor if a wart or the skin around it is:

  • Painful
  • Changing in appearance or color
  • Bleeding
  • Swollen
  • Oozing pus
  • Interfering with daily activities

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Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Warts. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/warts.html

Common warts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-warts/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371131

Skin Conditions and Warts. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/warts