Warts: Causes, Treatments, & Prevention Explained

Warts are caused by HPV or the human papillomavirus. Today, over 100 different types of HPV have been discovered. You have heard of warts or even had one pop up on your skin in the past. 

In fact, up to one-third of teens and children have warts, but only three to five percent of adults

Warts are extremely common. Because of this, it’s beneficial to learn more about them. With knowledge comes power and knowing the cause of warts, common types, and treatment options can help you manage your condition

Keep reading to learn more. 

Related: Is Your Skin Trying to Tell You Something?

What Are Warts?

Warts appear as raised bumps on the skin. While they aren’t typically dangerous, they may be uncomfortable, contagious, and embarrassing. In some cases, they are even painful

While this is true, it is possible to treat warts. There are at-home treatments, and you can go to the doctor. 

What Causes Warts?

When the HPV gets into your skin through a cut, it causes an infection that creates a wart. The virus can spread to different parts of your body and to other people. Some of the ways that warts are transmitted include:

  • Direct contact
  • Touching something that’s contaminated with the virus
  • Shaving
  • Cuticle picking or nail-biting
  • Sexual intercourse

Getting to Know the Different Types of Warts 

There are five main types of warts. Each one appears on a different part of your body and has a unique appearance

Common Warts

A common wart will typically appear on the backs of your toes and fingers and on your knees. However, they may show up in other areas, too. 

They usually have a grainy, thick, rough look and rounded top. Some claim they look like cauliflower. A common wart may be one millimeter to one centimeter in size or bigger. They may be alone or in groups. 

Plantar Warts 

Warts on the bottom of your feet are called plantar warts. They are unique from other warts because they grow into the skin rather than out of it. 

Do you wonder if you are dealing with plantar warts? These begin as a small, pin-sized hole in your foot. The skin around the hole is typically hard. As plantar warts develop, you may notice it’s more uncomfortable to walk

The two types of plantar warts include:

  1. Myrmecia: Caused by HPV type 1 and makes it feel like you are walking on pebbles. 
  2. Mosaic: Caused by HPV type 2 and aren’t as painful as Myrmecia warts.

Flat Warts

These are also called juvenile warts and are typically seen on the arms, thighs, or face. They can be caused by HPV types 28, 10, and three. 

These are smaller and not very easy to notice compared to other warts. They have a flat top and maybe brownish, pink, slightly yellow, or your skin color. They are typically found growing in groups of 20 to 200

Filiform Warts 

Filiform warts are commonly found around your nose and mouth. You may notice them on the chin and neck, too. These are contagious and can spread to other parts of your body. 

These warts resemble skin tags and are usually the same color as your skin. Usually, they are painless; however, this isn’t the case if they develop in a more sensitive area, such as a skin fold. 

Are you interested in learning more about common skin issues and what you can do to improve skin health? If so, check out our help section

Related: Let’s Talk About Sex…and Skin

Periungual Warts 

Periungual warts grow around and under the fingernails and toenails. They are sometimes painful and may impact nail growth

Usually, they are small when they start but can grow and spread to other parts of your body with direct content. 

Treatment and Management Options for Warts 

Warts may go away without treatment. Your immune system can fight off the virus. Since warts can spread and cause pain, there may be other treatments to try. 

OTC Wart Removal

You can purchase wart removal medications at the store. Try to find a medication that is made with salicylic acid. This substance will dissolve the wart a single layer at a time. 


Your doctor can use a cryotherapy procedure, which is when liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the wart. A blister will form, and then the wart and blister will peel away


Immunotherapy is beneficial for warts that are more difficult to treat and won’t respond to the other treatments. This treatment strengthens your overall immune system helping it fight the virus.  

Laser Treatment 

With this treatment, a doctor uses laser and heat to damage the tiny blood vessels in the wart. This cuts off the blood supply and kills the wart.

Tips for Preventing Warts 

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to prevent warts from forming. While this is true, you can take steps to help reduce your risk of contracting the virus or having it spread. 

Some tips include:

  • Never shave over a wart
  • Don’t touch a wart on someone else
  • Wear shoes or flip-flops when using public showers, pools, or locker rooms
  • Avoid picking, cutting, or scratching a wart
  • Keep your feet clean and dry to keep plantar warts from spreading
  • Don’t bite your nails or pick your cuticles
  • Get the HPV vaccine and use condoms
  • Never share razors, nail clippers, clothing, washcloths, towels, or similar personal items

It’s important to understand that once you have the HPV virus, there is no guaranteed way to keep warts from coming back. Even after being treated, they may come back in the same location or on a different part of your body.

Living with Warts 

There’s no question that warts can be embarrassing and unsightly. Many will go away on their own, and others will respond to the treatments listed above. Keep in mind that the virus that causes warts will spread easily, and you should take steps to keep warts from spreading or infecting others. 

Taking time to improve your skin’s health is always worth it. Learn more about our peels and how they can help you here. 

Related: Skin Care Tip: Hyaluronic Acid

← Older Post Newer Post →