Flat warts are more prevalent amongst teenagers and children which is why they are also known as juvenile warts. They are small, about flat warts the size of a pinhead, and as their name suggests flat warts have flat tops. As many as a hundred may be clustered in one location. They are a similar color to the skin, being pink, light brown or yellow, and are much smoother to the touch than other types of warts. Common locations for flat warts are the face and the forehead, but these little lumps can also grow on the neck, arms, and hands.
Causes of Flat Warts
Warts are caused by viruses. They’re called human papillomavirus (HPV) and more than 100 strains have been identified. The human papillomavirus (HPV) strains 3, 10, 28, and 49 are the main causes of flat warts. Like many viral particles, their favorite locations must be warm and moist which is why they hone in on the skin and mucosal surfaces. When they find a suitable place they invade the epidermis to grow, develop, and proliferate. HPV is highly contagious and is transmitted via person-to-person contact or sometimes by touching infected objects.
Sometimes it can take up to a year for flat warts to grow to a visible size, so you might not be aware you have them until sometime after the original infection. Flat warts are flesh-colored or white and slightly raised above the skin. These warts are flat-topped and smooth. Scratches are common places you will find an infection of flat warts. A flat wart will develop on the hands, face, and areas that are shaved frequently such as women’s legs and men’s faces. Flat warts usually occur in multiples. Very rarely will you find a flat wart all alone. Most warts are not painful, though they can hurt if they are located in an area that is frequently bumped or under pressure. More importantly, they are not dangerous. Flat warts are benign growths. The biggest problem that most people have with warts is that they are embarrassed by their appearance.
Treatment is not easy since this type of wart is quite prone to becoming reinfected. Without doing any kind of treatment, as long as the immune system is good, the body should be able to fight back over several months and fight it on its own.
But most people don’t want to spend half a year waiting though. The most common treatment for flat warts is non-prescription drugs that saturate the skin with water. The skin will then eventually peel away, taking the pieces of the virus along with it.
If you want access to stronger chemical solutions or lasers, a doctor will need to be consulted. They may even use liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) to freeze it off.
Even when treatment is successful warts can make an unwelcome comeback. This is because the HPV virus may still be lurking in the body.
Alternate names: verruca plana, plane warts, flat genital warts
1. The Patient Education Institute www.nlm.nih.gov Medline Plus tutorials