Periungual warts are a specific type of warts that appear around and under the fingernails or toenails. These warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), can be particularly bothersome and painful. In this article, we will explore what periungual warts are, their causes, symptoms, and various treatment options to help you understand and effectively manage this condition.
I. What Are Periungual Warts?
Periungual warts are benign growths caused by specific strains of HPV that infect the skin around and under the nails. They are characterized by their location, as they develop in the periungual (perinail) area. Unlike common warts or flat warts, which occur on the skin's surface, periungual warts can be more painful and challenging to treat due to their proximity to the nail bed.
II. Causes of Periungual Warts
Periungual warts are primarily caused by HPV, with specific strains that tend to target the periungual area. The virus enters the body through small cuts, breaks, or abrasions around the nails, making it more likely to infect this region. Individuals who bite their nails or pick at hangnails are at an increased risk of developing periungual warts.
III. Symptoms of Periungual Warts
Periungual warts have distinct characteristics, and they can be both painful and unsightly. Some of the typical symptoms and features include:
Location: Periungual warts develop around and under the fingernails or toenails. They often start as small, flesh-colored lumps.
Appearance: They may have a rough or irregular surface, and their color can vary from flesh-toned to brown or gray.
Pain and Discomfort: Due to their location, periungual warts can be painful, especially when they press against or invade the nail bed.
Change in Nail Shape: As periungual warts grow, they can distort the shape of the nails, causing ridges or pitting.
Infection and Bleeding: If left untreated, periungual warts can become infected, leading to pain, swelling, and bleeding.
IV. Treatment of Periungual Warts
Periungual warts can be challenging to treat, but various options are available, including:
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: In cases where 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 periungual warts. This may require multiple treatments.
Electrosurgery and Curettage: In some cases, a healthcare provider may use a curette to remove the warts after numbing the area with local anesthesia.
Laser Therapy: Laser treatment is effective in removing periungual warts, and it can precisely target and destroy the wart tissue.
Immunotherapy: Some cases of periungual warts may be treated with immunotherapy, which stimulates the body's immune response to combat the warts.
Preventing periungual warts and their spread involves the following measures:
Nail Care: Avoid biting your nails and picking at hangnails, as these habits can create entry points for the HPV virus.
Hand Hygiene: Frequent handwashing can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the HPV virus.
Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Do not share nail clippers, files, or other personal items that may come into contact with warts.
Seek Treatment Early: If you notice any signs of periungual warts, seek treatment promptly to prevent further complications.
Periungual warts, caused by specific strains of the human papillomavirus, are a distinct and often painful type of warts that develop around and under the nails. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is essential for managing periungual warts effectively. If you have concerns about periungual warts, especially if they become painful or lead to nail distortion, 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 healthy and pain-free nails.