Filiform warts can be one of the more visually distressing varieties, though their appearance can vary from person to person. Like all warts, they are caused by specific strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) – strains numbered 1, 2, 4, 27, and 29 specifically. However, becoming infected with any of the over-100 strains of HPV doesn’t guarantee that filiform warts will appear.
If they do, they aren’t hard to miss, which is both good for diagnosis and bad from a self-confidence perspective. Filiform warts most often develop in sensitive areas including folds of the dermis such as in underarm or eyelid areas. However, they may also appear in areas such as on legs, lips, the neck, fingers and hands, and other regions. Worst still, filiform warts have the ability to spread to other parts of the body, and it doesn’t take much time for this to happen.
What are filiform warts?
Different looking than most other warts, filiform warts have long, narrow formations that extend 1-2 millimetres from the skin. They are caused by HPV Virus types 1, 2, 4, 27 and 29 and are also called digitate or facial warts because they’re most commonly found in on the eyelid and the lips.
How do I know I have them?
- Long narrow formations
- Yellow, brown, pink, or skin-toned in color
- Projection from skin can range from 1-2 mm
- Typically isolated, not in clusters
The most common locations for filiform warts:
How do you get them?
Like all warts, filiform warts are transmitted through contact with the HPV Virus, which typically enters your body through a cut or a scratch in your skin. In the case of filiform warts, the virus is typically passed on via skin to skin contact from others or infection by another wart elsewhere on your body.
How are they diagnosed?
As they are found primarily on the face, neck or hands, they are most often diagnosed by a dermatologist. If on the leg, you can see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. Due to their distinctive appearance, they are confidently diagnosed by visual inspection alone.
What treatment options are available?
Because filiform warts are smaller and often in more sensitive areas (eyelids, lips), the harsher treatments need to be ruled out as they may leave scars and are more challenging to administer without peripheral damage. Swift Microwave Therapy, Cryotherapy, Salicylic Acid and Surgical Excision are all options for treatment.
What is the most effective treatment method?
The focus here is really around limiting potential damage, which is linked directly to the location of the wart. The least harsh treatment available is Swift Microwave Therapy as it does not destroy tissue, however you need to avoid treatment near the eyes. A light application of Cryotherapy to avoid scarring or a topical such as Salicylic Acid can also be considered. From a clearance standpoint, Swift has been shown to deliver better results as compared to the other modalities.
What should I do next?’
If you think you have filiform warts, we advise that you seek treatment from a registered dermatologist or podiatrist (if on the leg) who has the option to treat with Swift Microwave Therapy if appropriate. These clinicians will also have other options at their disposal, however those without a Swift Unit will not be able to recommend this treatment. In order to find a clinician offering Swift Microwave Therapy, visit the Swift Clinic Locator.
Can Filiform Warts Lead to Social Phobias or Reduced Self-Confidence?
Yes, depending on the individual. From a self-confidence perspective, this is one of the most troubling infections to develop, as the growths themselves are typically very unsightly, protruding vertically from the skin as far as a few millimeters. Most of the time they will appear in the facial area or in publicly viewable areas such as the fingers, so those suffering from their appearance typically seek out fast, effective ways to eliminate them.
How Does HPV Penetrate the Body?
Like all forms of HPV, strains that can produce filiform warts can enter the body through open cuts or abrasions on the skin of those carrying the virus. Weaker immune systems or warm/moist skin can also encourage spread, as can continued exposure in public areas such as spas, pools, gyms, and otherwise. In the case of a host inadvertently causing more warts to appear on other parts of their body, all that’s required is regular contact with the infected area. Filiform warts can appear in as little as a few days, sometimes even less.
Are Filiform Warts Cancerous?
The only good thing about filiform warts is that they’re not known to be cancerous, so there isn’t a physical or medical danger to you if you develop them. That said, most carriers don’t want to wait to be rid of theirs forever, for understandable reasons. Reaching out to an experienced clinician on treatments such as Swift, which eliminates transmission risk through disposable applicator tips, is the best course of action.