wart summary

A wart is a small, usually benign, skin growth with an irregular surface. The most common warts are common and flat warts.
Warts are often located on the hands, soles and sometimes on the face.

Warts are highly contagious, either by self contamination or contamination by another person.

For some experts, it is always important to consult a doctor or dermatologist in case of skin growth, as it could be melanoma (a serious skin cancer). For others, a wart can generally be well treated by self-medication, excluding cases of medical exception.

Warts are usually caused by viruses, particularly from the papillomavirus (HPV) family. These viruses grow rapidly in the epidermis.

Symptoms vary depending on the type of wart.

For the treatment of a wart, the doctor usually has liquid nitrogen or keratolytics, for example based on salicylic acid or lactic acid. Both methods seem to have similar effectiveness.

To prevent warts, avoid going barefoot in public places such as swimming pools. In these places, it is advisable to wear flip flops.

It is also important to dry your feet and hands, for example after a shower or bath, as the papillomavirus particularly likes moist places to develop.


A wart is a small benign tumor, in the form of a hard skin outgrowth. Some also see the shape of a cauliflower or a solidified blob.
Warts tend to occur mainly on the hands and feet. It is a very frequent condition.

There are different forms of warts:

– common warts , found mainly on the hands, including the fingers. These warts are common in children and young adults. They are transmitted by touch. More information below under Symptoms

–  flat warts , found mainly on the hands and face.

– plantar warts (in English:  plantar warts ), as their name indicates, present mainly on the soles of the feet. The viruses that cause this type of wart can enter the body, mostly through small cuts on the soles of the feet.

Warts are more of an aesthetic problem than a health problem itself, however, warts such as plantar warts, due to their location on the soles of the feet, for example, are very painful and need treatment quickly.


It is estimated that warts mainly affect children and adolescents aged mainly between 12 and 16 years. In industrialized countries, 22% of school-age children suffer from warts, with girls being more affected than boys.
– It is estimated that 7 to 12% of the world’s population has non-genital warts.
– 70% of warts appear on the hands.


Warts are usually caused by viruses. There are more than 100 different types of viruses called papilloma virus or HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus ) responsible for the appearance of warts.
We note that between the transmission of the wart virus and the appearance of the infection (=incubation time), there may be a delay of several months. They spread through contamination from one person to another (eg at the gym, swimming pool, hotel, etc.)
Warts are quite contagious, on the one hand this contagion can occur through self-contamination, that is by transmitting the wart from one hand to another. another, or to other parts (feet, face), and by contamination from one person to another.

Warts are more common with advancing age, due to a decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system as we get older.


The symptoms of warts vary depending on the type of wart.

– common warts: this is an outgrowth of the skin, grayish-yellow in color, with the surface of the wart a little porous. Common warts can appear singly or in clusters. These warts usually appear on the hands and feet and are not painful. Common warts do not carry a cancer risk.

– flat wart: usually, as its name implies, it is a flat wart, whose color is closer to the skin than common warts. These warts often develop on the face, hands and legs. They can persist for months or even years.

– plantar warts: these are warts that appear on the soles of the feet or on the feet (they can also appear on the fingers). Because of its location and the type of wart, it can be quite painful, so it’s important to treat it quickly to lessen the pain.


The treatments below refer to the treatment of common and flat warts. For the treatment of plantar warts, consult your doctor. In cases of plantar warts, the doctor may recommend vaccination against the HPV virus.

Natural disappearance
It is important to note that common, flat and plantar warts usually heal on their own in 1 to 2 years, without the need for treatment. For aesthetic reasons, it is possible to make them disappear more quickly.

Different treatments can be used to deal with warts, anti-warts and cryotherapy (freezing) are particularly used. It is important to remember that the doctor can combine several types of treatment to combat a wart.

1. Keratolytic or caustic anti-warts (chemical treatment)

– These remedies, almost always sold without a prescription, are based on salicylic acid or lactic acid , in the form of an ointment or cream. The mechanism of action of these substances lies in the elimination of the superficial layers of the skin, by peeling.

Medicines / ointments . In preparations made in the pharmacy: salicylic vaseline (salicylic acid concentration from 15% to 20%).

It is important to point out that the doctor also has more effective drugs, available only under prescription, as these are very corrosive, for example based on fluorouracil.
In the United States, prescription drugs based on bichloroacetic acid and trichloroacetic acid are available on the market.

It is always advised to protect healthy skin well when undergoing treatment to cure warts (applying bandages around the wart), as the products mentioned above are quite caustic.

Vitamin A derivative
In the United States, adapalene (Differin®) which is a topical retinoid indicated against acne, is sometimes prescribed by physicians for warts. This medicine, a derivative of vitamin A, stops cell growth. Studies have shown its effectiveness against warts.

Notes on keratolytics:
– It is generally necessary to apply these treatments based on salicylic acid and lactic acid for 1 to 2 months. This requires some patience.
– Some experts recommend soaking the wart in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes before applying a keratolytic. If soaking the wart is not possible, apply a warm, moist compress to the wart. This method increases the efficiency of keratolytics, including those that contain salicylic acid.

2. Cryotherapy, freeze drying or freezing (physical treatment)

It is about “burning” the warts with the cold, generally using the principle of liquid nitrogen. This process is usually done in the doctor’s office.

However, some doctors believe that it is usually necessary to repeat the procedure approximately 4 times at 3 to 4 week intervals for the wart to disappear completely. In other words, in this case it is necessary to carry out a total of 5 sessions of cryotherapy at the doctor for the warts to disappear.

Note on freeze-drying:
– This method is particularly effective if the wart is located where the skin is thick, such as the heel.
– Avoid using liquid nitrogen when warts are located under the nail, as recurrences are very frequent.

3. Other treatments

– For warts in the severe stage, the doctor may use laser therapy. They should only be performed in the doctor’s office and in cases of warts resistant to treatments 1 and 2.
– A minor surgery performed by the doctor can also be performed, also in the doctor’s office. Using electricity to burn off the wart is a possible alternative to surgery, especially if other methods have failed.
– Some doctors advise applying “silver tape” (in English: duct tape) directly to the wart and leaving it for 6 days, squeezing well. After removing the tape, immerse the area affected by the wart in water, soak it for a few minutes and leave it in the open air for 12 hours. Repeat the process until the wart disappears. It is believed that the tape irritates the wart and in some cases leads to its disappearance.
– In the United States, there is an injectable drug available on the market called canthardin, based on candida antigens, which aims to stimulate the immune system to fight the viruses that cause warts (HPV).

Herbal medicine

– Celandine juice or sap can have a positive effect on curing warts. We don’t know for sure if this is a real effect proven by clinical studies or if it is the placebo (see below) or psychological effect that allows the cure.

– Thuya Ointment (just look for Thuya Ointment in compounding or natural products pharmacies. They usually have it manipulated and it is very cheap. My son had more than 10 warts, some very large and less than a month old, using all the nights they almost completely disappeared; Sonia Aparecida, Duque de Caxias, Brazil, 2009 ).

We note that the psychological factor is very important in curing warts. It is said, for example, (among many other examples from popular medicine) that holding a chestnut tightly in the left hand is efficient in curing a wart. Of course, this phenomenon has no scientific evidence, but on the other hand, the psychological effect or placebo plays a therapeutic role, sometimes leading to the cure of warts. It is therefore necessary to remain cautious with all the plants, home remedies and other tricks to treat warts. If the psychological factor is proven, think that the therapeutic possibilities are endless, so we decided not to list folk remedies to treat warts here.


– Avoid walking barefoot in public places such as swimming pools, showers and locker rooms. Use slippers, for example. With bare feet, the probability of picking up warts, especially plantar warts, is much higher. You should know that plantar warts, that is, on the soles of the feet, are more difficult to treat than warts on the hand.

– Dry your feet and hands thoroughly, as warts particularly like damp places, especially the space between your toes or hands.

– Really believe in your cure, the psychological factor or placebo is very important to cure warts.

– If you have warts on your face, be careful when shaving, because the contagion can be accelerated and facilitated. You should contour the wart with the razor and treat it as soon as possible.

– Know when to see a doctor: for example, if the wart is very large, does not disappear after several months with conventional treatments, causes pain, is present in critical places (genitals, face), if the warts are multiplying or if the wart shape is atypical. In all these cases, it is best to consult a doctor. Some people believe that, as a precaution, one should always consult a doctor in cases of warts, in order to avoid the risk of serious diseases such as melanoma.

– A homeopathic treatment with Thuja can often be effective in cases of the appearance of warts.

– Take good care of your skin, damage to the skin such as small wounds can favor the entry of viruses that cause warts (HPV). It is mainly advisable to cover the wounds with a bandage, regularly moisturize the skin and use sunscreen to avoid sunburn .

– Take care of your nails. Especially avoid biting your nails, as this can cause small wounds in the skin around the nails and favor the entry and activity of viruses that cause warts (HPV). It is believed that viral particles may be dormant in skin cells and sores may activate them. Nail biting also promotes the transmission of warts from the hands to the face, including the lips.

– Avoid sharing razor blades and pumice stones.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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