Warts around your nail beds can be difficult to deal with, especially if you feel self-conscious about the way they look. If you don’t care for them, they can spread the virus that causes them to other areas of your body, or even to other people. They can also cause serious complications if they are ignored.
But there is no need to suffer from the effects of your warts. They can be treated quickly by your doctor or with over the counter treatments. If you catch them fast, you may even keep them from spreading before they become noticeable.
Table of Contents
I Have Warts Around My Fingernails
Warts that grow around fingernails and toenails are called periungual warts. Periungual warts can have more bothersome consequences than warts on other parts of your body. To gain more in-depth information about periungual warts and their causes and prevention, you can read this well-researched article.
Fingernail warts start very small, even as small as the head of a toothpick. When they are tiny like this, they may even escape notice because they are almost always completely painless. But eventually they expand into clusters and will become both noticeable and painful.
When they spread to this stage, they may resemble small crumbles of cauliflower or grains of sand. Once they get to this point, they will take more time, effort and pain to eliminate. This means that the earlier you catch them, the less likely you are to reach the painful stage or deal with the unsightly clusters around your nails, potential nail damage and secondary infection.
Why I Have Warts Under Toenails
There are certain things that increase the possibility of getting warts around both your fingernails and your toenails.
Some of the activities that increase the risk are:
- Frequently soaking the affected area under water.
- Biting the fingernails.
- Picking the cuticles.
- Acquiring a lot of scrapes or cuts.
- Wearing shoes that cause abrasions or blisters around your toes.
- Using public showers.
Many people get warts on their toenails from using public showers at the gym or at the beach without foot protection. Using shower shoes will greatly reduce your risk of this and other fungal infections. If you notice that you have an infection, avoid using these facilities and wear waterproof foot protection if you are forced to.
You can also become more likely to develop these types of warts if you have an immune system that is compromised by an autoimmune disease, acquired immune deficiency or an acute illness that reduces your resistance to infection.
If a person has any of these preexisting problems and is then exposed to the HPV virus, they are then very likely to develop warts as a consequence. This is why warts are so contagious, why they are so common, and of course why they are nothing to be embarrassed about.
There can be other less common causes of warts around fingernails and toenails. To learn more about what causes warts on fingers, you can read this article.
How To Treat My Wart Under Toenail?
Warts that are under the toenail are very hard to treat. This is because the presence of the cuticle and the thick nail make it difficult to get topical medicines to the entire source of the infection. There are a variety of very effective treatment methods that are designed to work around this problem, however.
Once you’re comfortable with your diagnosis, and you know for sure that what you are treating is in fact warts caused by the HPV virus, it’s time to select the treatment. You can try to treat them with a less expensive home remedies rather than an expensive visit to the doctor’s office if you have time and patience. Below are some of the more common wart treatments that you can try at home and other treatments that your doctor can administer if you need a faster or more thorough plan for stubborn cases.
- Salicylic acid: You can gently get rid of the wart clusters by “burning” them away with acid. This removes them from the top down as your infected skin dies and sloughs away. The treatment can take several weeks to complete however, and the warts can reoccur if they are not eliminated all the way down to their base. Please see detailed descriptions here.
- Duct tape: Duct tape softens and irritates the skin that is infected with warts, making it easier to remove the infection. It’s a little sticky and inconvenient, but it works as a cure for about half the people that try it. Further details can be found here.
Doctor’s office treatments:
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy can be done either at home or at the doctor’s. Because of the location and sensitivity of tissues involved, it’s better to go with a doctor if this course of treatment is chosen. With cryotherapy, the doctor administers liquid nitrogen to kill the infected tissue by means of extreme cold. It usually takes a few visits to completely eliminate them. For a more detailed definition of freezing warts with liquid nitrogen, click here.
- Imiquimod: Imiquimod is usually prescribed for genital warts, but it has been found to be such an effective treatment that it is now being used for various cutaneous warts as well. Imiquimod is a topical cream that is very good at helping the body to fight the HPV virus, while being very gentle on sensitive skin. Please see detailed descriptions here.
- Laser removal: Laser removal of warts is both fast and effective. It will often result in complete removal in as little as one treatment. Read more here.
- Surgical removal: Surgical removal of warts works very well, but if they have deeply invaded the nail bed, it will likely involve removal of the nail and a small part of the underlying bed as well. This means that it would have to be done under a local or general anesthetic and will involve significant recovery time and the use of pain killers. It’s not usually the best option for getting rid of these types of warts. For more information click here.
- Antigen injection: This treatment involves injecting molecules that induce the body to launch an immune response at the sight of infection. Oddly, the antigens injected are usually for an unrelated infection such as mumps or Candida. Your body usually fights the HPV infection at the same time, thus completely eliminating the virus and leaving completely healthy skin. Click here for more information about candida injection.
- Bleomycin injections: This is probably the last type of treatment that the doctor will consider using, and only for very stubborn cases. This is because bleomycin injections are very painful, and the nail bed of both toes and fingernails is a very sensitive area. To imagine how painful it might be, simply press on your fingernail as hard as you can. Bleomycin causes a blister to form around the warts to kill the infected tissue, and if the warts are very close to the nail bed, the blister will raise on this area as well. Still, it is a very effective treatment, resulting in cure for most cases. So, if the warts are particularly stubborn or reoccur several times, this may be the best last ditch treatment available. Further details can be found here.
These are not the only methods to eliminate warts. You can read this article to learn more about how to get rid of warts on fingers.
What Are My Chances of Getting Subungual Warts?
You must be exposed to the HPV before you develop subungual warts. This can happen at any time and is more likely to occur if you develop any of the problems mentioned above. Washing your hands frequently, keeping your nails clean and keeping your immune system healthy will decrease your risk of developing these warts. But no matter how many precautions you take, you can still develop them because they’re so common. In fact, more people have had or will have warts than those that haven’t or won’t.
Since catching warts under fingernails and toenails at a very early stage gives you the best chance of escaping damage, it’s best to know what they look like very early. At the very beginning of the infection you will notice one, or a cluster of small white dots in or around the nail bed. Since they are hard to differentiate at this stage, a doctor can help you identify them and quickly treat them.
What Should I Know About Cuticle Warts?
Cuticle warts should be treated, and they should be treated as soon as they are discovered. Your cuticles are the source of your nails and your nails protect your nail beds. Failing to eliminate these warts can cause more than just mild irritation.
It can cause:
- disfigured nail bed;
- onychauxis, which is an abnormal thickening right over the nail bed;
- permanent damage to the nail bed;
- splitting in nail as it grows;
- acute fungal infection;
- acute bacterial infection.
So as you can see, the most advisable course of action is simply to treat the warts as soon as you notice the problem. And if you’re not sure that what you have is cuticle warts, your doctor can let you know for sure and provide advice for the best way to treat them. It’s always good to remember the old adage, when in doubt, check it out.