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What are warts?

Warts are a common and annoying infection of the skin. They are caused by viruses that infect the top layer of the skin.

Wart Causes

Anyone can get warts, but some people are more prone to getting a wart than others. Children and teens are the most common individuals to get warts. People who bite their nails or pick hangnails are also more prone to developing warts. Viruses called human papillomavirus (HPV) cause warts. It is important to understand it is easier to catch a virus that causes warts when you have a cut or scrape on your skin. This is an excellent explanation as to why so many children get warts.

Warts are contagious and can spread from person to person. You can get warts from touching a wart on someone’s body. People can also get warts by sharing clothing or towels with individuals who have warts.

Types of Warts

Verruca vulgaris, also known as the common wart are a small, rough growth that resembles a cauliflower or a solid blister. They typically appear on hands, on the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of hands but may also appear on other parts of the body.

Flat warts are most common on the face, neck, backs of hands, elbows and knees. They are small, smooth and flattened warts that are flesh-colored and can occur is large numbers, from 20 to 100 at a time.

Plantar warts most often occur on the pressure points of the feet. They are hard and sometimes painful and have multiple black specks in the center. They can grow in clusters, also known as mosaic warts.

Filiform warts look like long threads or thin fingers that stick out. They often grow quickly on the face, usually around the mouth, eyes and nose.

Genital warts occur on the genitalia. They are the most common sexually transmitted disease. This type of HPV infection is linked with cancer of the cervix, penis and anus.

Wart Treatments

There are numerous treatments for warts but no individual treatment works for everyone. The goal of wart treatment is to remove the warts, avoid scarring and prevent recurrences. It is common to have multiple treatments on warts.


Your dermatologist may paint cantharidin on your wart which will cause a blister to form under the wart.


Cryotherapy is the freezing of a wart. It is used to treat common warts in adults and older children.

Electrosurgery and Curettage

Electrosurgery, which is the burning of a spot, is a good treatment option for common warts, filiform warts and foot warts. Curettage involves scraping off the wart with a sharp knife or small, spoon-shaped tool.