Warts are skin growths caused by a viral infection known as Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are usually skin colored and feel rough but they can also be smooth, flat and dark. The appearance of a wart depends on where it is located on the body. There are several different kinds of warts including:

  • Common warts – most commonly located on the fingers and hands
  • Foot (Plantar) warts
  • Flat warts

Warts are passed from person to person, directly or indirectly. The risk of catching warts is small. Wart viruses occur more easily if the skin has been damaged in some way for example if one bites his nails. Some people are more likely to catch wart viruses than others.

Warts do not need to be treated. Warts will often disappear without treatment over the course of several months or years. However, warts that are bothersome, painful, or rapidly multiplying should be treated.

Treatments for warts include over the counter salicylic acid preparations, cryotherapy (freezing), electrosurgery, and lasers. Most children with common warts will respond to over the counter treatments and/or cryosurgery done in the pediatrician’s office. Plantar warts can be more difficult to treat as much of the wart is below the skin. Warts require multiple treatments and can take up to 8 weeks plus to go away once treatment has been started.

Home Treatment Recommendations from Mass General Hospital available in this handout:

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