Flat warts are common on the face. They are typically called facial warts and can occur on people of any age, but are more common on children. Flat warts can occur on other parts of the body too. Women are more apt than men to experience them on their legs, one possible reason being that women shave their legs while men typically do not.
These growths can also be found on the backs of hands, the arms, and in the bearded area of men, where they are again thought to be caused by shaving. The human papillomavirus, or HPV, of which there are over 100 types, is responsible for these growths. It causes the outer layer of the skin to grow rapidly and thicken. As this rapid growth of skin cells takes place, tiny blood vessels form in the core to provide nourishment to the skin cells. This is the reason why if you happen to pick at one of these growths or accidentally knock it off, it may bleed profusely for some time. The flat types are less likely to be knocked off than the more common raised growths, but can sometime be cut and interfere with by shaving.
Whether they are flat or not or on the face or not, these growths have some strange characteristics. Although they consist of live skin cells, they are seldom painless and at times are known to itch. The raised varieties are more likely to cause pain. This depends on where they are located, since pressure put on them will in turn put pressure on adjacent tissues in which nerve cells may be present. This is why one type of wart found on the soles of the feet, the plantar wart, can sometimes cause pain.
A Contagious Viral Infection
Warts are contagious. Being near someone who has them won’t cause you to have them too, but they are caused by a virus. The virus is present in and around these growths, and if a break in your skin comes into contact with the virus, you could become infected and grow your own warts. An old wives’ tale is that you should never touch a wart on someone else or you will get one too. There is a modicum of truth to this belief, but the chances of it happening are actually rather small. In addition, some people are more susceptible to experiencing one or more of these growths than are others. Since the facial growths are more common in children, those at greatest risk of having them are other children and childcare workers. Adults who work in hospitals or nursing homes are also at a higher risk, since there is usually a great deal of skin-to-skin contact involved.
Not all of the 100 or so HPV strains are apt to cause a problem. Most warts are caused by no more than four or five different strains. These viruses tend to thrive on warm, moist parts of the body, which include the forehead and the general facial area.
Medically Harmless but Potentially Emotionally Harmful
These growths are harmless and will generally only be examined by a doctor to make sure they are not a type of malignant growth. Warts in themselves are not malignant. They come and go and do no harm other than embarrassment. In most cases they require no treatment, as they do not present a medical problem.
They can be an annoyance, however, and sometimes a serious one. The facial variety often grows in clusters of up to 100. The individual growths are small, but when they appear in clusters they can be quite noticeable.
These flat facial growths can be extremely hard to get rid of at times. They will seem to have a mind of their own, resisting many, if not most, home remedies until one day simply deciding to go away on their own. You can live with one of these for months or even years, then suddenly realize it is no longer there.
Treating Flat Warts
There are a number of compounds on the market used to get rid of these annoying little flat spots, many of which contain salicylic acid.
This is usually, though not always, effective. Salicylic acid eats away at the growth a layer at a time. This would be a quick acting remedy for flat warts if only one or two layers were involved, but there are many layers and they have to be removed one at a time. In the meantime, the virus may counter by continuing to build layer upon layer.
Prescribed medications often attack the problem by keeping the growth moist. It will eventually soften and fall off. Dermatologists sometimes attack these growths using cryotherapy, in other words freezing them. Other surgical methods such as electrosurgery, cauterization, or normal surgery are usually effective but can leave scars, so are not often recommended for dealing with facial warts.
When All Else Fails
One treatment method said to be highly effective is the use of duct tape. The tape has to be kept on the area for several days to be effective, which might be a problem if you have one or more areas on your face you need to keep covered. The worst case scenario would likely be that you would be a conversation piece, but it is worth it if facial warts are becoming a major problem.
There are several sources that recommend duct tape as a possible treatment. No one seems to claim duct tape will not work. It is known to work, but no one seems to know exactly why. It seems the relationship between flat warts on the face and duct tape is likely to remain a medical mystery for some time to come.