A Pictorial Reference for Warts

Clinically Assessed by Physician Jennifer Robinson the sixteenth of September, 2021

What Are They?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) family of viruses causes these typically painless bumps on the skin. The virus causes an increase in the number of skin cells in the affected area, making the skin there thick and rigid. They are more common on the hands and feet, but can appear anywhere there is skin. The location and appearance of the wart are key factors in determining its classification.

Who Gets Them?

Not everyone who comes into contact with HPV will develop a wart due to individual differences in the immune system's response to the virus. Furthermore, the virus can more easily infect skin that has been cut or otherwise damaged. That's why eczema sufferers, nail biters, and hangnail pickers are more likely to develop warts.

Your Body Plays Defense

Warts are more common in children and teenagers than in adults because their immune systems have not yet developed adequate defenses against the numerous HPV strains. Individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV or those taking biologic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or inflammatory bowel disease, are more likely to develop warts.

How They Spread

Direct skin contact, such as when you pick at your warts and then touch another part of your body, is the most common way that warts are spread. Towels and razors that have come into contact with a wart, either on you or someone else, can also transmit the virus. Warts thrive on skin that is either moist, supple, or damaged.

Fairy Tales Are Wrong

Frogs and toads are harmless, so feel free to kiss and pet them as much as you like.

Even if you have a wart on your nose (or anywhere else), that doesn't make you a witch.

Common Warts

These bumps typically appear on the palms, fingers, nail beds, and soles of the feet. They range in size from a pinprick to a pea and have the texture of rough, hard bumps. Blood clots, which appear as tiny black dots, could be hiding on their skin. Usually, they appear in places where the skin has been damaged, such as from nail biting. (Doing so can also spread germs from your hands to your face.) )

Plantar Warts

Feel like there's something stuck in your shoe? Make sure your feet are dry. The Latin word "plantar" means "of the sole," which is where these warts got their name. The pressure of walking and standing causes plantar warts to penetrate the skin deeper than other types of warts. Having a single wart or a group of them (termed a "mosaic wart") is possible. They have the same flat, tough, and thick characteristics as calluses, so the two are often confused. Observe the area for any dots of blackness.

Flat Warts

The good news is that these warts are less noticeable than others because they are smaller (about the width of your phone's charging cable) and smoother. The bad news They multiply rapidly, usually by a factor of 20 to 100. Children's faces, men's beards, and women's legs are common places for flat warts to manifest.

Filiform Warts

These rapidly expanding warts are threadlike in appearance and often have a spiky, brushlike appearance. They don't typically hurt, but they are annoying because they sprout in awkward places on the face, like the mouth, eyes, and nose.

Genital Warts

You can, not surprisingly, contract these through sexual contact with a person who already has them. Genital bumps can appear as individual, skin-colored nodules or as a cluster of bumps resembling a small head of cauliflower. And even if you don't notice them at first, they can quickly multiply and spread. Genital warts are notoriously difficult to treat, so it's best to see a doctor instead.

Cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) may also be spread orally and anatomically during sexual contact.

How Long They Last

Your immune system will eventually strengthen and you should be able to successfully eliminate warts. But it could be months to two years before they completely vanish. Warts can persist for years or even decades on an adult's skin. Not all warts can be removed. There seems to be no clear reason why some people do and others don't, and doctors aren't sure how to explain it.

To Treat or Not to Treat?

Even if your warts are painful or embarrassing, you probably don't need to do anything about them. However, waiting for warts to disappear can have unintended consequences, such as the growth of an existing wart or the spread of the virus that causes warts. The best method of treatment is conditional on factors such as your age and general health, as well as the specific type of wart you have. A small amount of the virus may remain dormant in your skin after the wart has disappeared and cause a new outbreak at a later date, but unfortunately HPV cannot be cured.

Peeling Products

Salicylic acid is found in many over-the-counter gels, liquids, and pads, and it works by peeling away the dead skin cells of the wart, causing its gradual dissolution. Warm water and a disposable emery board can help the product penetrate the wart more effectively. Always start with a fresh emery board. It may take a while, possibly even a few months, so please be patient.

Duct Tape

Wart treatments might be found in home improvement stores. Conflicting research suggests that covering warts with duct tape can help stimulate the immune system by causing the skin to peel and irritate the wart. Treat the area with water and sandpaper before applying duct tape (silver tape is better for this). If the wart is not gone after 5-6 days, repeat the procedure. If it works, the wart should disappear in about a month.

When to See the Doctor

It's best to see a doctor if your skin growth doesn't respond to over-the-counter remedies, causes you pain, or if you have a lot of them. Before attempting to treat a wart on your own, you should have a doctor take a look if you have diabetes or a compromised immune system.


Your doctor may recommend using liquid nitrogen to remove common warts from adults and children of a certain age. (Since the nitrogen is so frigid, it can cause a stabbing pain for a while, it is not recommended for very young children. Most likely, more than one session will be required. After the wound has healed, a second application of salicylic acid is more effective. Light spots may appear on people with dark skin after cryosurgery.


A blister forms under a wart after being "painted" with this liquid, causing the growth to be expelled from the skin. The wart is removed along with the blistered skin after about a week. Although it may tingle, itch, burn, or swell a few hours after application, cantharidin is often used to treat young children because it doesn't hurt at first.

Burning and Cutting

After anesthesia has been administered, a doctor may choose either of these procedures.

With electrosurgery, an electric current is passed through a needle and used to "burn" the wart. Beneficial for all types of warts, including plantar warts and genital warts. A laser is another tool your doctor may use.

Removal of a wart via curettage entails using a sharp knife or a small spoon-shaped tool to scrape off the growth. An alternative is excision, which entails removing the wart by slicing it off or cutting it out with a sharp blade.

Prescription Creams

Peeling creams containing glycolic acid, stronger salicylic acid, or tretinoin may be effective against persistent warts. Skin irritability is induced by the use of diphencyprone (DCP) and imiquimod (Aldara), which trigger the immune system to begin clearing away infection. 5-Fluorouracil, a chemotherapy drug, may also inhibit the production of new skin cells in the same way that it inhibits tumor growth.


The wart can be injected with medicine to help get rid of it by your doctor. The anti-cancer drug bleomycin may inhibit the multiplication of virus-infected cells. If you have genital warts, for example, taking interferon can help your body fight off the HPV that caused them.

You may also need to apply salicylic acid or duct tape to your wart, though these aren't the first things your doctor will try.

Stop the Spread

Even though there is currently no way to completely avoid contracting or spreading warts, there are steps you can take to make your situation less likely to worsen:

  • Don't pick at your warts or scratch them, or touch anyone else's.
  • Be sure to wash your hands after removing warts.
  • Maintain a dry environment on the warty feet.
  • Showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools often lack flooring, so it's important to wear water-resistant shoes.


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Articles from the American Academy of Dermatology: "Warts: Overview," "Dermatologists share tips for treating common warts," and "Where warts come from" "

Patient education: Skin warts (Beyond the Basics)" and "Cutaneous warts (common, plantar, and flat warts)" can be found on UpToDate. "

Professor of Dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and Dermatology Specialist Mona Gohara, MD

IQHC: "Warts: Overview" "

Witchcraft and Warts" (JAMA Dermatology). "

"Plantar Warts," Cleveland Clinic "

FamilyDoctor Site: Warts.org "

"Curettage and shave excision of raised skin lesions," University of Southampton Health Service. "

Bleomycin and the Skin," DermNet New Zealand "

Research on the effectiveness of interferon in the treatment of genital warts was recently reviewed in BMC Infectious Diseases. "

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