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Causes & Prevention
Warts are an infection of the skin that become those unsightly bumps on various parts of your body or the soles of your feet, and are caused by specific wart viruses. They come and go, sometimes with or without treatment, and sometimes won't go away no matter what treatment is given. Some individuals are more susceptible than others to having warts. As any virus, warts are contagious, but not in the normal sense of being contagious as in catching someone else's cold. The other person needs to be susceptible to the virus. Only genital warts and those around the anus are contagious in the normal sense, and care must be taken not to spread them to others.
Plantar warts, those on the soles of your feet, are also contagious and are frequently picked up in moist areas, such as bathrooms, locker rooms and around swimming pools. Keeping your feet dry after being in one of these areas is the best method of prevention.
General Information about Warts
There are five types of warts:
1) The common wart has an elevated, rough, dry surface, and may occur anywhere on the body;
2) Flat warts are usually flat, multiple lesions that can occur anywhere: faces, arms, backs of hands and legs are the most common areas. This type is especially common in women who shave their legs and also in bare areas of men;
3) Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet;
4) Genital warts are found around the genital areas of men and women and around the anus. They can be large and fleshy or look like regular warts;
5) Warts can also be found on the lips and in the mouth. These appear as small, moist, whitish bumps. This type is not common.
Do you have a wart? How do you tell? There are two diagnostic points to look for, and you must have them both. First, regular lines on your skin do not run through warts - they stop on one side and begin again on the other. Second, warts are granular and not smooth and clear as some other types of bumps are.
Should you treat your wart? That really is left to personal preference. Plantar warts are painful, so treatment for these is usually necessary. Genital warts or those around the anus also need to be treated by a physician so they don't spread. Don't try to treat this type yourself. Other warts may go away on their own, or you may want to treat them. Vanity and personal comfort, as in having warts in areas that need shaving or where clothes rub them, may be the determining factor. If you do decide to treat them, start with the simplest method and if that hasn't worked in three weeks progress to more aggressive methods.
You must treat all the warts in a given area so they don't continue to spread. If they are in an area you shave, stop shaving if you scrape them or use a hair removal cream, as the scraping will spread the wart virus. For plantar warts, start with the tape or tape and castor oil methods, then, if they aren't effective, progress to a more aggressive method. Use a pumice stone or some other type of scraper to get off the dead skin before applying more medicine. Plantar warts are difficult to get rid of and may take three to six weeks before any progress is noted.
* A recent study (2002) done at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA found that placing a piece of duct tape the exact size of the wart over it was successful in removing the wart 85% of the time and was better than the standard method of freezing the wart (60% successful). So give it a try: place the tape on the wart for six days, then remove it; soak the wart in water; gently scrape the wart with an emery board or pumice stone; leave the tape off for a night; repeat for up to a month.
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