You’ve probably spoken with many people who have warts, and you may even have one or more yourself. But did you know that there are many different types of warts, and they often have different characteristics?
Filiform warts are fleshy skin growths that are benign, and appear on people who are infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Generally speaking, warts are named based on what they look like, or according to the part of the body on which they appear.
Filiform warts got their name because they show a filiform shape in the way they are projected from the body. They appear often on the face, especially on the lips and eyelids. However, they may also be seen on the neck. They are not limited strictly to the facial area, either. They are sometimes found on legs or in the axillary (armpit) area.
The HPV virus brings with it an infection that stimulates your skin’s top layers to grow too much, and this excessive growth leads to filiform warts. They must be properly treated, because they are aesthetically disconcerting and quite contagious. Aside from this, they do not typically cause any pain, and they respond fairly well to treatment. It is important, however, to get treatment promptly, particularly when they may cause you a great deal of embarrassment.
Filiform Warts – Symptoms
The most common filiform wart symptoms and attributes:
- They are benign.
- They appear as fleshy growths on your face, neck, legs or armpit areas.
- They are generally asymptomatic.
- In some people, they may grow very long.
Some HPV patients also commented that they encountered these symptoms:
- Pain, if they appear near folds in the skin, or in areas where the skin rubs together, causing them to become irritated.
- They tend to spread to other body parts if not treated.
What are the Main Causes of Filiform Warts?
As we mentioned above, filiform warts are brought on when a person is infected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). However, not all variations of HPV will cause you to develop filiform warts.
The strains that develop filiform warts are usually 1, 2, 4, 27 & 29.
The most common ways in which the virus is transmitted:
If you share clothing with someone who has filiform warts, you will increase the risk of becoming infected yourself, particularly if the clothing has touched areas of the body that are infected.
- Human contact
You can become infected just by touching filiform warts.
If you have filiform warts, you can contribute to their spreading from the affected areas to unaffected areas simply by touch.
If your skin experiences breakdown, you have a higher risk of becoming infected by HPV.
You should not borrow shoes from someone who is infected with HPV.
- Personal hygiene supplies
You should not share towels with anyone who has filiform warts, since you will have a great chance at becoming infected.
Contact with surfaces that may be infected is dangerous, as is sharing any products for skin care used by people who are infected with HPV. This virus is found on a variety of surfaces, including the areas around pools and floors in shower rooms.
What risk factors may increase your chance of becoming infected with HPV?
- A weakened immune system, including infection by HIV
- Breaches in the skin, like abrasions or cuts
- Coming into contact with an HPV carrier
- Prolonged exposure to someone with HPV, or being constantly in an area that may have residual infection like locker rooms, etc.
- Moist, warm skin
Treating Filiform Warts
The most commonly used treatment courses for filiform warts include:
- Topical irritants, whose active substances have a keratolytic effect
- Trichloroacetic acid
- Salicylic acid
- The active substances in salicylic acid help your immune system to fight off infection.
- Several applications will be recommended before you will notice the positive results (the wart begins to disappear).
- The fleshy growths are frozen through the use of liquid nitrogen.
- After this procedure, you may notice blisters in the area treated.
- Patients should wear bandages over the treated areas and remove any dead skin after one week.
- You will need several freezing sessions for a wart to disappear completely.
- These sessions will be repeated every two weeks to one month. The number of sessions needed will depend on the location, size and number of your filiform warts. There are usually four to six sessions of therapy.
- If you happen to develop a severe reaction to the freezing therapy, it can be performed in a more gradual manner.
- Potential cryotherapy side effects include:
- Injury to the tendons
- Discoloration of the skin
- Superficial injury to the nerves in the area
- Recurrence of warts
- Development of scars
This therapy is similar in some ways to conventional cryotherapy. It will cause the skin under the filiform wart to blister, and when the blister becomes dried up, the dead tissue will be removed.
- Minor Surgery
- Local anesthetic will be applied before the start of the surgery.
- This procedure utilizes an electric needle or a scalpel.
- This surgery immediately removes the wart, so no additional procedures are needed.
- Skin in the infected area may become scarred.
- Electrosurgery includes two separate stages – curettage and cautery.
- The filiform wart base is burned through the use of cautery or diathermy.
- Following surgery, it will take about two weeks for wound healing.
- Warts may recur.
- Laser Removal
- This procedure is recommended for any filiform warts that may be too difficult to remove using other methods.
- Costs for laser removal may be high.
- There is a risk of scarring.
Other treatment choices include:
- Applying cytogenic agents
- Occluding with duct tape or plaster
- An HPV vaccine – This is not technically a treatment, but it does protect against HPV infection.
- Systemic retinoids – only recommended for warts that have become extensive
Are Filiform warts contagious?
Filiform warts are quite contagious. That’s why you need to avoid contact with people who have this type of wart. You do not want to wear coats or hats that have been worn by someone who is infected with the HPV virus, especially if they have filiform warts. Protect yourself so that there is less risk of HPV infecting your body, which could lead to the development of filiform warts
Photographs of Filiform Warts