Warts on the Fingers
Warts are a very common skin infection found in almost every developed country in the world. Warts can occur on any place on the human body, including the neck, arms, legs, mouth, and genital region. But most often they are found on the backs of our hands, our fingers, and around the toenails and fingernails. That’s primarily due to the fact that the hands and feet are the parts of the body most likely to come in contact with objects or other people who are infected. Warts on the fingers can be one of three types:
- flat warts
- periungual warts
- seed (common) warts
Although all warts are similar, each different type is caused by a different strain of virus and therefore, exhibits some unique characteristics. Which type of wart is present on your fingers depends on which strain of the virus is causing it? Your doctor will be able to easily identify the type of warts you are suffering from and recommend appropriate treatment. Some warts respond well to home treatment while others do not, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with.
Causes of Warts on the Fingers
All warts are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV); the only question is which of the hundreds of possible strains the culprit is. Regardless, an infection occurs when the virus is able to enter the skin through a cut, scratch, or another abrasion, where the warm and moist environment provides the optimal breeding ground for allowing the virus to multiply. As it does so it encourages skin cells to rapidly multiply and spread out, thereby forming the actual substance of the wart.
HPV is extremely contagious and can be passed from one person to another very easily. The incubation period for some strains is such that a person could be infected for up to a year before symptoms occur. However, for most warts on the fingers, the incubation time is only a few days to a few months. Once a person begins showing signs of an infection he is contagious until his warts are eradicated.
Warts on the fingers are easily spread to other parts of the body by allowing the infected area to touch other skin. It’s also possible to pass the virus through a bath towel or another object that the infected person may touch. Therefore, it’s recommended in households where one member is infected, that he not share towels, linens, or any other objects with other family members until the warts are gone.
Treatments of Warts on the Fingers
Depending on the specific type of warts you exhibit, your doctor will recommend a treatment. For flat warts and seed warts, an over-the-counter topical compound will be all that’s needed for most people. For periungual warts, you’ll want to ask your doctor before beginning any over-the-counter treatment. If finger warts are persistent and/or aggressive, your doctor might recommend one of several other options including:
- cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen)
- immunotherapy (applying an immune booster through injection or topical ointment)
- laser surgery
- standard surgical excision
The more invasive procedures, like cauterization and the surgical excision, are usually used only as a last resort. These procedures can be quite painful and are likely to leave scar tissue behind. However, in the case of persistent plantar warts, sometimes surgical excision is the only remedy.
The difficulty in treating warts infections lies in the fact that there is no known cure for the HPV virus. Once you are infected there is always the risk that your warts will return at a later date, especially if your immune system is weakened.