Several types of warts are seen in clinical practice and some of the common variants have been described here:
Common warts (verrucae vulgaris)
Common warts are typically grey to flesh colored, raised lesions varying in size from pinhead to about 10 mm in diameter. They are generally covered with rough, horn-like projections and are commonly seen on hands and feet, especially around the nails. As the names suggests, these are the most common variety of warts and can affect people belonging to all age groups.
As compared to common warts, these warts are small and only slightly raised above the skin. They can be flesh colored or whitish and appear smooth (unlike common warts that appear rough). Flat warts are generally the size of a pinhead and may appear in clusters. Common locations of flat warts are face and legs. When they occur on the face, they tend to spread rapidly especially with activities like shaving. Teenagers and adults are more prone to develop flat warts.
Filiform warts, as the name suggests, are long, narrow and filamentous warts. These flesh colored growths tend to affect the face and neck more often. They generally appear in clusters and have a tendency to grow rapidly. Filiform warts also spread easily especially by sharing face towels or facial products. If accidentally rubbed or scratched, they may get irritated and may bleed.
One of the painful varieties of warts, plantar warts occur on the soles of the feet. They are often called as mosaic warts due to their mosaic-like appearance. They tend to grow into the skin of the soles and hence are difficult to treat. Plantar warts often have a tiny dot at the centre which is due to clogged blood vessels. Having a plantar wart makes walking around painful since it is constantly subjected to pressure thus rendering it tender.
Genital warts / Condyloma
Warts that affect the genital region are called genital warts and they are amongst the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Typical locations in male patients include the penis and in case of women, the vulva, vagina and cervix may be affected. Occasionally the warts may even spread to the anal region or the pubic region in both the sexes.
Appearance-wise, genital warts are seen as flat raised lesions or cauliflower-like bumps that are generally flesh colored. They may be small in size making them difficult to spot at times; in other cases they may be larger and itchy. There may be tenderness or a burning sensation in the affected region. In case of genital warts on the cervix, the woman may experience bleeding after sexual intercourse.
Genital warts may occur singly or in clusters. They are highly contagious and they spread easily through sexual contact (vaginal or anal) or oro-genital contact (oral sex). Genital warts do not spread through bodily fluids and a direct physical contact is essential for transmission. After an initial exposure to the partner's genital warts, a person may develop the same weeks, months or even years later. They tend to be recurrent in nature and frequent outbreaks are seen in the affected person.