Several types of warts are seen in clinical practice. Some of the common variants are listed below:
Common warts typically vary from grey to flesh-coloured; they are raised lesions, which vary in size from a pinhead to about 10 mm in diameter. They are generally covered with rough, horn-like projections, and are commonly seen on hands and feet, especially around the nails. As the names suggests, these are the most common variety of warts and can affect people belonging to all age groups.
As compared to common warts, these warts are small and minimally raised above the skin. They can be flesh-coloured or whitish and appear smooth (unlike common warts that appear rough). Flat warts are generally the size of a pinhead and can appear in clusters. Common locations of flat warts are the face and legs. When they occur on the face, they tend to spread rapidly, especially with activities like shaving. Flat warts are seen in both teenagers and adults.
Filiform warts, as the name suggests, are long, narrow and filamentous warts. These flesh-coloured growths tend to affect the face and neck. They generally appear in clusters and have a tendency to grow rapidly. Filiform warts also spread easily, especially by sharing face towels or facial products. If they are accidentally rubbed or scratched, they may get irritated and may even bleed.
Plantar warts are the painful variety of warts, which appear on the soles of feet. They are often called mosaic warts, owing to their mosaic-like appearance. They tend to grow into the skin of soles and, hence, are difficult to treat. Plantar warts often have a tiny dot at the centre, formed due to clogged blood vessels. Having a plantar wart makes walking painful.
Warts that affect the genital region are called genital warts, and they are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Typical locations include the penis in males and the vulva, vagina, and cervix in women. Occasionally, warts may even spread to the anal as well as pubic regions in both sexes.
When it comes to their appearance, genital warts are flat, raised lesions or cauliflower-like bumps that are generally flesh-coloured. They may be small in size, making them difficult to spot; in other cases, they may be large and itchy. There may be tenderness or a burning sensation in the affected region. If there are genital warts on the cervix, women may experience bleeding after sexual intercourse.
Genital warts may occur as a single lesion or in clusters. They are highly contagious, and they spread easily through sexual contact (vaginal or anal) or oro-genital contact (oral sex). Genital warts do not spread through bodily fluids; direct physical contact is essential for transmission. After an initial exposure to the partner's genital warts, a person may develop warts within the same week or in the months or years to come. They tend to be recurrent in nature, and frequent outbreaks are seen in the affected person.
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