Warts are small bumbs of hardened skin. They can show up anywhere on the body, but you'll usually find them on your hands, feet or face. Once on the skin these viruses develop into nodules, usually gray-colored, benign protuberances that are highly contagious and easily spread by skin contact. Some warts will disappear over time if the immune system recognizes it as a virus and produces an antibody, but this is very rare.
There are 60 or more types of HPV. Some types tend to cause warts on your skin. Common warts usually occur on your hands, fingers or near your fingernails. Other types of HPV tend to cause warts in other places, such as on the soles of the feet, the genitals or the face and legs.
As warts are caused by a virus infection, the body will build up resistance over a period of time and eventually the body will cause the warts to disappear. This may take months or sometimes years but is the natural way the body deals with warts. Warts are common and all children are vulnerable, but children with immune system problems may have an increased risk. The virus is present throughout the environment and is infectious, but the risk of catching them from public places is now debatable.
Appearance and size of warts depend on the location and the amount of irritation and trauma. Common warts are sharply demarcated, rough-surfaced, round or irregular in shape, firm, and either light gray, yellow, brown, or gray-black in color. They are small nodules ranging in size from 2–10 mm in diameter.
Cryosurgery in which the doctor uses a special chemical (sometimes containing liquid nitrogen) to freeze the wart, and a scab usually forms as the skin heals. This treatment is usually repeated every 1 to 3 weeks for a few months to fully kill the virus that causes the wart.
Non-prescription drugs are also available for the treatment of flat warts. These products cause the skin to become saturated with water. Over time, the skin layer peels off, taking the wart virus with it. Flat wart remedies can take as long as three months to work, depending on the size and depth of the wart.
If the chemical makes the skin sore, stop treatment until the discomfort has settled, then recommence as above. Take care to keep the chemical off normal skin. 3% formalin solution can be used to soak multiple mosaic plantar warts several times a week. Protect unaffected skin with Vaseline, and apply cotton wool soaked in the solution, left in place for about ten minutes before rinsing off.