Warts (or verrucas) are a widespread problem in our population. A wart is a benign tumor of our skin. There are several types of warts, the most common are so called true warts (verruca vulgaris) and to those this article is mainly dedicated. There is also a type called genital warts also known as condylomata acuminata.


True warts are caused by infection with viruses belonging to HPV group (Human Papilloma Virus). Viral particles invade cells of the skin, multiply, affect cell inner controls and cause rapid cell proliferation. It is easier for the virus to penetrate skin especially if it is injured or wet. HPV is also a sexually transmitted disease easily contractible during sexual intercourse. HPV virus group has hundreds of different strains and some of them are responsible for cervical cancer genesis.


True warts are common and well-known for the majority of population. They are bumpy and cauliflower-like looking lesions that may be located anywhere on the skin. Warts gradually grow and harden. Warts often occur on soles of the feet and on toes. The lesions contain viral particles and are therefore infectious. By touch or by scratching warts can spread to other locations.


Condylomata acuminata are also referred to as genital warts. They also have a cauliflower-like appearance and they are transmitted during sexual intercourse. Typical location of genital warts is in the vicinity of external genitals or around the anus. It is important not to confuse them with much rarer formations known as condylomata lata. The name is quite similar but condylomata lata are a typical manifestation of syphilis.


It is usually not difficult to diagnose warts. A dermatologist is the most relevant doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


A substantial prevention is to avert viral infection from penetrating the skin. It is important not to walk barefoot in public places, especially in public showers. Wet skin on the feet is an ideal way for viral entry. Avoidance of promiscuous behavior is the best way to preventing genital warts contraction, preference of safe sex is also recommended. If some finds a wart, it is advisable not to touch, or scratch it.


There are many treatment options, but they all must result in destruction of the tumor tissue. The way of therapy depends on decision current doctor and it is often influenced by size, location and number of warts.


Heat or cold therapy – Various devices are used to destroy the wart tissue. Some instruments burn the tissue by white-hot wire, other destroy the warts by freezing it (usually by liquid nitrogen). It is a quick and efficient, but quite painful procedure – especially the thermotherapy.

Chemical therapy – There are many products that chemically soften the skin (usually substances derived from acetylsalicylic acid) or that directly damage wart's tissue. Especially locally applicable chemotherapeutic agents are very effective. The treatment is usually long-term and continuous – repeated applications of the chemical and removals of dead tissue by a scalpel.


Surgery – Sometimes there is a need to completely remove a wart by surgical intervention in local anesthesia.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources