Flat warts are among the most common of all types of warts, usually appearing on the face, forehead, and hands. More embarrassing and unsightly than anything else, flat warts are generally harmless and can be treated very easily. However, if treated improperly they could lead to more serious issues down the road.
Flat warts are known in some circles as “juvenile warts” because they most commonly occur in children. Other, less common locations for flat warts are the neck, arms, outer thighs, and legs. In these other areas, they may not be noticed if they are too small.
Flat Warts Causes
Flat warts are caused when broken skin comes in contact with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The virus uses the broken skin as an entry point where it then grows and multiplies until the wart tissue appears. HPV grows and multiplies very quickly in warm, moist environments making the forehead and face an optimal environment for this virus to proliferate. As with all HPV infections, flat warts are highly contagious and are easily passed through person-to-person contact.
Flat warts are most common in child-care workers and their students more than any other sector of society. They also have a high rate of occurrence in healthcare workers; primarily those in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living communities, where physical human contact is a necessity.
Flat Warts Symptoms
One of the most interesting aspects of flat warts is that victims can have the infection for up to a year before the first signs appear. Other warts, like genital and plantar, show symptoms anywhere ranging from a few days to a few months. When flat warts finally do develop they appear as raised, flesh-colored or brownish patches of skin with, as the name suggests, a flat top. Another interesting aspect is that they rarely occur as single, stand-alone growths. Flat warts almost always grow in groups of several at a time.
You should experience little or no pain with flat warts unless you inadvertently break them open and allow for further infection. Since flat warts can easily occur on areas of the prone to consistently rough treatment, it is suggested for both men and women that they be careful of shaving if they’ve been exposed to the virus. If flat warts grow on a frequently shaved part of the body, you might wish to have them removed to avoid inadvertently cutting them open.
Flat Warts Treatment
As a general rule flat warts are totally harmless. However, many people are embarrassed by them and choose to have them removed. Although flat warts can prove to be very difficult to treat, and prone to recur several times before being completely eradicated, many doctors prefer to allow the patient’s own immune system to try and fight off warts. In many cases this strategy is successful. When it’s not, the doctor will often prescribe drugs that are designed to keep the skin around the wart fully saturated. The extended saturation softens the skin until it reaches a point where it will fall off and take the wart with it.
If natural, traditional methods do not work doctors may choose salicylic acid or another compound to safely remove the wart layer by layer until it’s gone. If all else fails it may be required to use cryotherapy (freezing with nitrogen), laser surgery, electro-surgery, cauterization, or standard surgical removal. Because the HPV virus is so contagious, doctors recommend that patients do not try to remove their own flat warts by cutting them away. Doing so simply exposes other parts of the skin to the virus.