Flat warts, also known as verruca plana, are a common but distinct form of skin warts. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are characterized by their flat, smooth, and relatively inconspicuous appearance. In this article, we will explore what flat warts are, their causes, symptoms, and various treatment options to help you understand and effectively manage this skin condition.
I. What Are Flat Warts?
Flat warts are benign growths that develop on the skin's surface. They are caused by specific strains of HPV and are typically small, smooth, and nearly level with the surrounding skin. Unlike common warts or plantar warts, flat warts are not raised or rough in texture, making them less noticeable.
II. Causes of Flat Warts
Flat warts are primarily caused by HPV, with strains 3, 10, and 28 most commonly associated with this type of wart. The virus enters the body through small cuts or breaks in the skin, making it more prone to infecting areas like the face, neck, and backs of the hands.
III. Symptoms of Flat Warts
Flat warts have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other types of warts. Some of the typical symptoms and features include:
Location: Flat warts often appear on the face, neck, hands, wrists, and knees. They can occur in small clusters.
Appearance: Unlike raised and rough common warts, flat warts are flat and smooth, with a color that can vary from flesh-toned to slightly pink or brown.
Size: These warts are generally smaller than common warts, usually no larger than the head of a pin.
Clustering: Flat warts tend to appear in groups or clusters, and it is not uncommon to find several of them in the same area.
Itching or Irritation: Although typically not painful, flat warts can sometimes itch or become irritated, especially if they are scratched or rubbed.
IV. Treatment of Flat Warts
Flat warts can be challenging to treat, but several options are available:
Over-the-Counter Treatments: Non-prescription wart treatments containing salicylic acid or cryotherapy products can be applied at home to remove the warts gradually.
Prescription Medications: If over-the-counter treatments are ineffective, a healthcare provider may prescribe stronger topical treatments or therapies.
Cryotherapy: A dermatologist can use liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove flat warts. This may require multiple treatments.
Laser Therapy: Laser treatment is effective in removing flat warts, and it can precisely target and destroy the wart tissue.
Electrosurgery and Curettage: In some cases, a healthcare provider may use a curette to remove the flat warts after numbing the area with local anesthesia.
Immunotherapy: Some cases of flat warts may be treated with immunotherapy, which stimulates the body's immune response to combat the warts.
Preventing flat warts and their spread involves the following measures:
Hand Hygiene: Frequent handwashing can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the HPV virus.
Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Do not share towels, razors, or other personal items that may come into contact with warts.
Avoid Touching Warts: Refrain from touching or scratching flat warts, as this can cause them to spread to other areas of the body or to other people.
Flat warts, caused by specific strains of the human papillomavirus, are a common but often less conspicuous type of skin wart. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is essential for managing flat warts effectively. If you have concerns about flat warts, especially if they become irritated or if you wish to expedite their removal, it's advisable to consult a healthcare provider for personalized treatment recommendations. Early intervention can lead to faster and more effective wart removal, allowing you to regain clear and smooth skin.