What Are Warts?

Warts are harmless skin growths that may appear anywhere on your body.

They are caused by the human papillomavirus. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, depending on their type and the part of your body on which they appear.

There are six major types of warts, and they include:

  • Common warts – found mainly on your hands
  • Filiform warts – found on your face and neck
  • Flat warts – characterized by clusters and found on your face, hands and legs
  • Genital warts – form in your genital area
  • Periungual warts – found around your fingernails
  • Plantar (foot) warts – found on the bottom of the foot

Important: A wart on one part of your body can be spread to another part of your body especially if you have cut or injured your skin. Also, they are easily spread with skin-to-skin contact or through sharing personal items, such as towels and clothing.

Signs and Symptoms of Warts

Signs and symptoms by wart type:

  • Common warts: These warts are round, rough-textured and yellowish or brown and are usually found on your hands, but can spread to your face.
  • Filiform warts: These fast-growing warts are long and thin, sometimes dangling from the skin of your face or neck.
  • Flat warts: These warts are small and smooth and form in clusters of as many as 100 warts on your face, hands and legs.
  • Genital warts: These warts are often tiny, flat or slightly raised lesions found on the genitals of both sexes. They may form clusters that take on a cauliflower-like shape.
  • Periungual warts: These warts resemble hard skin around the fingernails, often causing painful split skin.
  • Plantar warts: Found on the sole of your foot or palm of your hand, sometimes in clusters, these warts are flat and often quite painful.

Causes of Warts

The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes warts. There are many types of human papillomaviruses, which is exactly why there are different types of warts.

Preventing the spread of warts

The virus can spread from one part of the body to another or from one person to another. The infection is more likely to spread if the skin has a cut or injury. Kids are more likely to get warts on their arms and legs, where there are scrapes, while adults are more likely to get them where they shave, such as men’s faces and women’s legs.

To keep warts from spreading:

  • Don’t let your wart touch other parts of your body.
  • Don’t let your wart touch another person.
  • Don’t share anything that could have touched the wart, such as clothing, pillowcases, towels or shoes.
  • Cover your plantar warts with socks or slippers while in the home and use shower sandals at the gym or pool area.

Wart Treatments

While sometimes your warts will disappear without any treatment, that’s not always the case. In these cases, where your wart is not going away on its own or has become painful or is making everyday tasks uncomfortable, we will treat it in one of the following ways depending on its type.

Our treatment options include:

  • Cryotherapy (freezing) – to kill common warts by freezing them with liquid nitrogen
  • Electrosurgery (burning) – for common, filiform and plantar warts
  • Curettage (scraping) – used in conjunction with electrosurgery, we will scrape off your wart with spoon-like cutting tool
  • Excision – to cut out your wart
  • Laser surgery – for warts that are not responding well to our other types of treatments
  • Chemical peels – may be used to peel off a grouping of non-raised warts