Common Warts

What are common warts?

Common warts are small growths of the skin caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus. They typically are round lumps which may be flat or resemble a cauliflower. The virus is transmitted by touch and enters the body through small injuries in the skin. Warts can appear on any part of the body but are typically found on the hands and feet. Verruca is another name for a viral wart which can occur on the soles of the feet. Warts can be treated with medication (applied directly to the wart) or they can be frozen off. Warts can reappear after being treated, and the virus generally leaves the skin after 2 years.


The wart virus is contagious and is passed by touch. The virus causes skin cells to flourish and causes the wart’s characteristic fleshy lump. Common warts can affect people of all ages. Children, young adults and people with a suppressed immune system tend to get warts more commonly than other people.


A wart is a small, fleshy lump, which may be flat on top, or may resemble a cauliflower. They can occur on the whole body but most commonly appear on the hands or feet. Warts are generally not painful. The color can vary from white to red to flesh-colored. Some types can have little black points in the middle.


A doctor can generally diagnose a wart by looking at it. In some cases, small parts of the wart can be removed and sent to the laboratory to rule out other possible causes.


There are many methods for removing warts. A medication applied directly to the wart, often salicylic acid, is a common first option. A doctor can also freeze the wart off by applying liquid nitrogen to the skin. If these are unsuccessful, a doctor can prescribe alternative treatments. Warts on the face should be treated by a doctor to avoid causing damage to the skin.