The skin is largest organ of the body. It regenerates and heals, and gets damaged and sick, just like your inner organs do. One such problem you might encounter with your skin in warts. When you get a wart, all you really want is to get rid of it. The bump gets in the way, it disrupts your skin, just to name a couple of things. These growths come from Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, the culprit behind every wart on the human body. And just like any virus, it comes with symptoms.
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What Symptoms Will I Get With Warts?
A symptom is the physical manifestation of what’s ailing you. For example, symptoms of a sprained ankle are pain and swelling, while symptoms of a cold are coughing and a sore throat.
When it comes to warts, there are several different physical results you can see from it:
- Bump: When HPV activates and begins to replicate, it causes your skin’s cells to reproduce at a much higher rate than normal, building up into one keratinized mass we call a wart. The raised portion of skin will vary in size from person to person and depends on the wart type, as well.
Shapes: Warts can come in different shapes. They can be round or oval, be flat, or even have many fingerlike appendages coming out from it.A wart can take days or weeks to grow.
- Itching: There are times when a wart may itch. Sometimes it’s only from when your clothes rub against it or it touches the bed when you’re sleeping. But it’s possible for a wart to be itchy at regular periods, too. Warts on your scalp and genitals tend to itch more than others.
- Pain: Normally, there shouldn’t be pain associated with a wart. Plantar warts, however, might be slightly painful as a secondary result of walking on it. With plantar warts, the pressure from your footsteps pushes the wart back into your foot, flattening it out flush against the skin. When you take a step, the pressure from the step against a wart already shoved into your foot might be uncomfortable, even a little painful. This is not always the case, but can happen. Subungual warts under the toenail or fingernail can also cause pain, as it will begin to disrupt and even damage the nailbed if not taken care of.
- Blockage: If genital warts grow into the urethra, it can block some or all of it, which would need immediate medical attention. Oral warts can obstruct your airway if grown large enough.
- Cancer: Genital warts have been shown to lead to cancer. In fact, 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. For this reason, doctors recommend all cases of genital warts get looked at for evaluation.
Many people believe that warts come from a fungus or that the old wive’s tale of catching warts from frogs is actually true. Can you get warts from frogs? To find out, click here.
If you’ve oral warts, sometimes it will be harder to notice since you can’t see the ones back in your throat. If you start to feel them inside your throat, it’s important that you get them treated. Warts sticking out into your throat can get food caught on them and if grown out of control, can interfere with airflow. Also, oral warts lead to a higher chance of oral cancer if not treated.
How can you be sure that what you have is a wart and not skin cancer? Or just a mole?
Let’s look at some telltale differences:
- Warts and moles: A mole is similar to a wart in that is a raised bump out of the skin that can pop up throughout your life. Moles are always going to be colored, while warts can be flesh-colored or dark. Moles also come up more slowly than a wart, and can be linked to sun exposure. They typically will not go away on their own like a wart eventually will. A wart will grow rapidly and can continue to grow, while a mole usually stays the same size.
- Warts and skin tags: A skin tag is flesh-colored, like some warts can be. But unlike warts, a skin tag will be a flat, flap-like piece of skin.
- Warts and skin cancer: Skin cancer is a dangerous thing, and any signs of it shouldn’t be ignored. It can manifest as an abnormal growth or mole, so you may be confused as to whether your wart is a wart or a cancerous growth. A wart is usually uniform in shape, color, and size, unlike skin cancer that will have irregular borders and varying colors. Skin cancer might ooze or bleed, which is different from a wart.
HPV is the nasty virus behind warts, and it’s in more places than you think. More information on what causes warts can be found by going here.
Diagnosis Of A Wart
Most of the time, you’ll be able to tell yourself if what you’ve found is a wart. After you find the growth on your body, if you’re still wondering if what you’re dealing with is an actual wart or not, you might want a medical professional to diagnose it for you.
They will look at the growth and check it for size, color, shape, and whether or not there’s pain or bleeding. After ruling out anything dangerous, a diagnosis of whether it’s a wart or not will be made.
Risk Factors For Warts
To understand whether or not you’ll be at a higher risk for a wart, you’ll first have to know how you get them. HPV gets into your skin through tiny breaks, sometimes so minuscule you have no idea it’s there. And while the virus can be anywhere, it likes to hang out in places that are moist and warm.
While there is no cure for HPV, some scientists believe a person’s immune system may be able to kill the virus on its own. This would explain why some people are exposed to HPV but never develop warts, why immunocompromised individuals are more susceptible to warts, or why some people’s warts don’t return again later after treatment. Of course, this hasn’t been proven and is still theoretical, but is interesting to consider.
When considering risk factors for HPV and warts, know that the more of the following you share, the greater your chance of getting warts:
- Spend a lot of time around places like a pool deck, sauna, steam room, locker room, or showers used by multiple people.
- Don’t wash your hands often.
- Are immunocompromised.
- Are a child or elderly (these groups tend to have a higher rate of warts).
Some warts spread only through breaks in the skin, and some can spread just through simple touch. If you’ve been wondering, “How do warts spread?” go here for more answers.
Although the symptoms of warts might not be fun, the good news is that they can be dealt with and treated easily. If you think you’ve got a wart, try an at-home remedy, or see a medical professional about removal.
You can find further details of Warts here.