Warts and Fungus

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Warts and Fungus

Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin.  Viruses that cause warts are called human papilloma virus (HPV).  Warts are usually skin-colored and feel rough to the touch, but they can be dark, flat and smooth.  The appearance of a wart depends on where it is growing.

There are different kinds of warts consisting of:

Common warts - these usually grow on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands.  They are more common where skin has been broken, for example where fingernails are bitten or hangnails picked.  These are often called "seed" Warts because the blood vessels to the wart produce black dots that look like seeds.

Foot warts - are usually on the soles (plantar area) of the feet and are called plantar warts.  When plantar Warts grow in clusters they are known as mosaic warts.  Most plantar Warts do not stick up above the surface like common warts because the pressure of walking flattens them and pushes them back into the skin.  Unlike common warts, these warts can be painful, feeling like a stone in the shoe.

Flat warts - are smaller and smoother than other Warts.  They tend to grow in large numbers 20 to 100 at any one time.  They can occur anywhere, but in children they are most common on the face.  In adults they are often found in the beard area in men and on the legs of women.  Irritation from shaving is the main cause.

How do you get warts?

Warts are passed from person to person, sometimes indirectly.  The time from the first contact to the time the Warts have grown large enough to be seen is often several months.  The risk of catching hand, foot, or flat warts from another person is small.

Why do some people get warts and others don't?

Some people get warts depending on how often they are exposed to the virus.  Wart viruses occur more easily if the skin has been damaged in some way, which explains the high frequency of Warts in children who bite their nails or pick at hangnails.  Some people are just more likely to catch the wart virus than are others, just as some people catch colds very easily.  Patients with a weakened immune system also are more prone to warts.

Do warts need to be treated?

In children, Warts can disappear without treatment over a period of several months to years.  However, warts that are bothersome, painful, or rapidly multiplying should be treated.  Warts in adults often do not disappear as easily or as quickly as they do in children. 

How are warts treated?

Cryotherapy (freezing) is generally preferred.  This treatment is not too painful and rarely results in scarring.  However, repeat treatments at one to three week intervals are often necessary.  Electrosurgery (burning) is another good alternative treatment.

Foot Warts are a little more difficult to treat because the bulk of the wart lies below the skin surface.  Treatments include the use of salicyclic acid plasters, applying other chemicals to the Wart, or one of the surgical treatments including laser surgery, electrosurgery, or cutting.  Our physicians may recommend a change in footwear to reduce pressure on the Wart and ways to keep the foot dry since moisture tends to allow warts to spread.

What about the problem of recurrent warts?

Sometimes it seems as if new Warts appear as fast as the old ones go away.  This may happen because the old Warts have shed virus into the surrounding skin before they were treated.  In reality new "baby" warts are growing up around the original "mother" Warts.  The best way to limit this is to treat new warts as quickly as they develop so they have little time to shed virus into the nearby skin.  An examination by one of our physicians can help assure the treated wart has resolved completely.   

Fungus Infections

Tinea Pedis (athletes foot) is the most common type of fungal infection and only affects humans.

Onychomycosis (nail fungus) is usually asscoiated with tinea pedis.  It is very difficult to eradicate.  Often the great toenail is the first to show signs, especially if it has been injured.  The nail yellows, and after years thickens and breaks easily.  Fingernail infections are similar, but less common.

Tinea Cruris (jock itch) effects people with tinea pedis, these people also develop a rash in the groin, especially if they tend to sweat a lot.  This effects men more often than women, it has an itchy spreading red border.  

Tinea Corporis (ringworm) is a type of Fungus infection of the skin that is spread from person to person, from contact with an infected animal, most often a cat or from exposure to Fungus in the soil.  Itchy red scaly patches come up everywhere the animal rubbed; this often develops as a ring.

Tinea Capitis (scalp ringworm) usually occurs mostly in children and results in scaling and patchy hair loss.  It is an epidemic in many African American communities. 

Brighton Dermatology is conveniently located in Mid Michigan and serves all of Michigan including;  Brighton, Howell, Novi, Pinckney, Whitmore Lake, Wixom, Walled Lake, Milford, Farmington Hills, South Lyon, Northville and all other cities in Mid Michigan and the Greater Metro Detroit areas

Please call 810-220-4422 to schedule a Warts or Fungus consultation appointment or to inquire about any other treatments that we can perform here at Brighton Dermatology and Regenesis. Feel free to contact us by email here.