Warts are small lumps on the skin. They are usually harmless and clear in time without treatment. However, treatment can clear them faster. Most common ones involve applying salicylic acid, freezing with liquid nitrogen, or using a cold spray.

  • Warts can grow anywhere on the skin
  • Small growths on the skin caused by a virus

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0 treatment(s) for Warts

DescriptionCausesTypes of treatmentQuestions and answers

Warts are skin growths caused by a virus. They are extremely common in the UK. They can be characterised by raised bumps on the skin, typically small in size and appear on the fingers or hands. Research shows that humans have been affected by this condition for over 3000 years. Mummies have been found with warts on them and even Shakespearean writings referenced them. In a lot of cases, a group of minuscule black dots appear on the surface of the wart. It is referred to as ‘seeds’. These dots are small blood vessels which have clotted.

Usually, before the age of 20, almost everyone develops one or more warts. If not then, it can happen at some time in their lives. Even children can suffer from this condition. Warts are contagious and can spread with close skin-to-skin contact. A weak immune system can develop a lot of warts which may be difficult to clear.

The majority of warts will naturally pass without the need for treatment, though this could take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Warts are generally not dangerous but they are ugly and an eyesore, as well as being contagious and potentially embarrassing. It can also cause you mild to mediocre pain, which could prompt the need for treatment if you were affected in such a way. A wart can appear at any part of the body; though certain forms of warts are prone to sprout in specific locations. For example:

  • Common warts: Usually appear on hands/fingers
  • Plantar warts/Verrucas: Usually grow on soles of feet
  • Flat warts: Usually appear on face, thighs, and arms
  • Filiform warts: Usually grow on mouth and neck
  • Periungual warts: Usually appear around or beneath the toenails and fingernails.

To learn more about warts, see the comprehensive patient information leaflet

A wart may only develop when the outer layer of a person’s skin comes into direct contact with the virus (human papillomavirus-HPV). The top layer of the skin will become infected and the virus will usually enter the body via cracked/broken skin. This causes the skin cells to multiply at an accelerated rate and a wart is formed.

Simple skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can spread the infection. Sharing personal items such as razors and towels with an infected person can also result in the same outcome. There are over 100 different types of HPV. Most of them cause relatively benign conditions such as a common wart sprouting; while others may cause much more serious diseases, such as cancer of the cervix (very rare).

If you already have warts, you should be wary of the virus spreading to other parts of the body and sprouting more. Biting your nails can also act as a means of spreading the virus onto your around the fingertip area. A lot of HPV strains are known to thrive in hot and moist conditions which make locations such as swimming pools, or changing rooms of particularly, high risk. Not everyone who comes into contact with HPV will develop a wart, this is entirely dependent upon the strength of your immune system.

To reduce the chances of passing on warts or getting infected:

  • Do not share towels
  • Before entering a pool, cover your wart with a waterproof plaster
  • If you have verruca, do not share your socks and shoes
  • Wear flip-flops in public or common showers

To reduce warts from spreading to other parts of the body:

  • Do not bite your nails that have warts
  • Do not suck your fingers if you have warts
  • Do not scratch warts or pick them
  • If you have a verruca, change your socks daily

The majority of those who are suffering from a wart will not end up requiring the need for treatment. Your immune system may be able to destroy the HPV that causes warts, though this could take anywhere from months to years. During this period, new warts can also potentially develop nearby. There are several reasons why someone may turn to treatment. Some of these can include:

  • Wart gets irritating
  • Embarrassing to live with
  • Causes you substantial amount of pain
  • Can grow/spread to other body parts of your body or other people

The aim of any form of wart treatment is to destroy the wart (while ensuring no scar tissue is created as a consequence) and/or stimulate an immune system response in order to fight the virus. The type of treatment you choose should depend on the type of wart, its location, and the symptoms seen.

It’s crucial to remember that a course of wart treatment can last in excess of a few months, so you must be totally willing to stick with the entire course, no matter how long it takes. We stock two different forms of wart medicines: Warticon liquid/cream and silver nitrate avoca pencil which can be applied directly to the site of the infection. 

The most common treatments are:

Salicylic Acid

Various paints, lotions, and plaster contain salicylic acid. This acid is applied to the infected area to burn off the top layer of the wart. Soak the wart in water for 5-10 minutes before you use the acid. Apply it daily for 3 months. Do not apply the acid over clean areas (around the wart), as this may cause irritation. It may take around 2 weeks for improvement to be seen.

Freezing Treatment (Cryotherapy)

In a freezing treatment, liquid nitrogen is used. It is sprayed on or applied to the wart. This destroys the tissue and after several sessions, the wart is cleared. 4-6 sessions may be required. This treatment can be painful. Blisters can appear, and there is also a risk of scars on the surrounding areas. Underlying tissues may also get damaged.

Combined treatment

In this treatment salicylic acid and the freezing treatment is combined. During the freezing sessions, you apply the acid as well.


You can cover warts with duct tape and let it cure. However, it is not a very proven or recommended method to treat warts.

Other Treatments

Some other treatments may be used if the above-mentioned ones do not work.

  • Laser therapy
  • Scrap them off
  • Light therapy
  • Creams to kill the virus
  • Creams used to stop the cells from multiplying
  • Acupuncture

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.

Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

What causes warts to develop?

Warts will potentially develop once a person has come into direct contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is very contagious and can be spread by either person-to-person contact, or by contact with an item/object which the infected person has touched.

What are the symptoms?

Warts will appear on the skin as small bumps which are rough and grainy in texture. The majority will be a very similar colour to the flesh; or pink, white or tan. In some cases, black dots will appear on the surface of warts, this is simply a sign of small blood vessels which have become trapped.

Are warts dangerous?

No. Warts are generally believed to be benign (non-cancerous). Although they pose literally no threat to your health at all, you will probably still want to take action upon it due to aesthetic reasons; if a word was in a very exposed location, for example.

Can you prevent the onset of warts?

No, skin warts cannot be knowingly prevented but there are several precautions which can be taken to assure that you minimise your chances, the majority of which can be done from the comfort of your home. The most crucial step you can take is to ensure you keep your hands clean by washing them regularly. Keep your skin healthy also, by moisturising either once or twice per day and try to refrain from obtaining any cuts or scars anywhere on the body; bitten nails can act as an opening for HPV to enter your body. If you are getting changed in a public changing room or a similar location, be sure to always use your own towels (etc.).

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.

Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!