Warts are a result of many different factors; they are usually unsightly and cause social and personal discomfort. It’s not that they are a ‘serious issue’, in this case aesthetics dominates, but the concern ought to run deeper.
Doctor Lilia de la Torre Navarro, a grade 1 and 2 specialist in Dermatology, Assistant Professor, Master of Infectious Illnesses and Medical Education, sums up warts in literally two words: “skin growths” and she describes them as “small growths on the skin caused by a group of viruses”.
There are five types of warts: flat, filiform, vulgar, plantar and genital.
Do they all have an infectious origin?
Yes, they are all caused by a virus. The culprit is a DNA virus called the human papilloma virus. More than 70 different types have been isolated, though not all are fully classified.
It is the human body.
And what is the main cause of infection?
From direct contact with people who have them; through the use of clothes, shoes and sexual contact.
Once infected, how long does it take for a wart to appear?
Usually weeks or a few months, from two to nine months.
The flat and vulgar warts on the hands and the face; the plantar warts, as its name suggests, on the soles of the feet; filiform warts on the face; and genital warts on external genitalia.
Are some people more succeptable to suffer from them?
Yes. Those who suffer from immunological deficiencies, carriers of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and couples who do not pratice safe sex, that is, having sex without a condom. Also, people who suffer from hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating) in the hands and feet.
Are they linked with age?
Yes, filiform and vulgar warts are more common amongst children and young people; plantar warts are more common in adults; and genital warts are mostly found amongst people at an age of high sexual activity, usually promiscuous people who don’t use protection during sexual intercourse.
At what point is it recommended that you consult a doctor?
As soon as you detect any lesion on the skin or mucous membranes.
Is the diagnosis clinical or does it usually require laboratory tests?
It is mostly clinical, supported by some specific laboratory tests. Also, serology and HIV are detected in genital warts because they can coexist with other sexually trasmitted diseases, like syphilis and HIV/AIDS.
In general what is the preferred treatment? Is it effective?
There are effective, topical treatments available (scrapings, creams). Also surgical treatments like electrofulguration are used, as well as cryotherapy and excision of the wart. In stubborn cases, a treatment of local or intramuscular injections of interferons and transfer factors can be employed.
Can you refer to the prognosis of these patients?
In general it’s good, although the reappearance of the lesion can appear after days, weeks or months. For those patients who aren’t treated, the warts continue to grow in size and number, and the possibility of infection is even greater. There is research that demonstrates the relationship between some strains of wart-causing viruses with certain types of cancers, like, for example, cervical and genital cancer.
In men they are located on the penis, the scrotum and the pubic area. In women they’re found in the vulva, the anus, the vagina and the cervix and can affect the oral mucus. The usual treatment is performed with caustic products, though the most important thing is prevention with the use of a condom, even between stable couples.
Any final points to add?
I’d underline the importance of revising the normal anatomy of sexual organs, with the purpose of being able to identify any abnormality that may appear.
(Translated by Eleanor Gooch – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)