A few years ago, I developed a bump on my finger. It itched like crazy, and then it went away – only to come back months later. I dismissed it for some time, but recently I decided to get to the bottom of this mysterious bump.

Ointments

After researching every symptom online, I was sure I might die from the bump. Or, I thought, it could simply be a wart. I purchased the over-the-counter Freeze Off medicine in an attempt to kill it. It came back. I tried the salicylic acid wart remover band aids. It came back. I even tried duct tape and it came back. I was about to soak my hand in Windex, since Gus from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding thought this cured everything.

Finally, I decided to take a trip to the dermatologist. Maybe he could get rid of this wart! Problem was, it wasn’t a wart. He was just as perplexed as I was. After three weeks of applying a special ointment, my bump is gone. Thank goodness for dermatologists and their mystery ointments. But I digress; the point of this story is that I learned a lot about warts during this process. If you should find a mysterious bump that you suspect could be a wart, here’s what you need to know…

5 Types of Warts

Common warts – these are typically found on the hands but can also be elsewhere. They appear as a little dome-shaped bump, grey or brown in color.

Plantar warts – these warts are usually on the soles of the feet in areas with hard and/or thick skin. They typically cause pain when you walk.

Flat warts – these ones appear on the arms, legs and sometimes the face. They are flat-topped and pink, brown or yellow.

Filiform warts – these are found around the nose and mouth and appear flesh-colored with thread-like substances sticking out of them.

Periungual warts – these are rough bumps with a border that is typically uneven. They grow under and around the fingernails and toenails.

Note: Genital warts have nothing to do with these five types of warts. That’s a whole different subject.

How did I get a wart?

  • It did not come from touching a frog; that’s just a myth. Warts come from a human virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over 100 different kinds of HPV. You might be thinking of HPV as a sexually transmitted disease at this moment. You are correct – it is; however, it’s highly unlikely that you contracted a wart in that manner as that is just one of many kinds of HPV.
  • If your hand had a break in the skin and you shook someone’s hand that had a wart, the virus could have entered this way.
  • If you shared a towel, razor or other personal item, that may have infected you.
  • Even walking barefoot around a gym or public pool could have put you in contact with the virus.

It is likely that you have been in contact with HPV millions of times and have never been infected. Some people are just more prone to infection than others, and sometimes it has to do with the strength of your immune system on any given day. Once infected, it takes months for the wart to grow large enough to be visible to the naked eye.

How do I treat a wart?

Most warts will just go away on their own over the course of a year or two. However, if it is painful, unsightly or you don’t want to spread it to other parts of your body or to others, there are a few options:

  • Home treatments include salicylic acid, freezing applications or duct tape.
  • A dermatologist would recommend cryotherapy, which is freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. This gives you a blister that falls off within a couple weeks and new wart-free skin grows in its place.
  • Surgical removal is typically the last resort.

It is important to note that warts don’t itch. If it itches, it’s probably not a wart. You should go to the dermatologist to make sure it is not something more serious. He might give you a mystery ointment that will make your itchy bump go away.

Information taken from:  http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/warts-and-plantar-warts-topic-overview

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living