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What is Warts?

Warts are small, fleshy bumps on the skin or mucous membranes caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear anywhere but commonly on hands and feet. Warts are generally harmless and often disappear on their own over time, but they can be contagious and uncomfortable. Treatment options include topical medications, cryotherapy, and surgical removal.
Statistics of Warts

Warts by the Numbers: A Statistical Snapshot

The incidence of genital warts is around 0.1% in the general population and more than 0.5% in young people. [1]

The overall prevalence of genital warts is estimated at 4.78% for men and women aged 18–60 years. [2]

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Ask an Expert, Dr. Vi Sharma

Medical Director | Gen.Reg- MED0001665706

Key Facts

Fast Facts On Warts

Warts, common in Australia, are caused by various strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on hands and feet.
Warts can spread through direct contact with a wart or something that touched the wart. They’re contagious, so prevention measures like not picking at warts and washing hands regularly are crucial.
The body’s immune system plays an integral role in fighting off HPV virus that causes warts. A healthy immune system may prevent them from forming or help eliminate existing ones faster.
Wart appearances vary depending on their type: common warts are rough, flat or dome-shaped; plantar warts grow inward due to pressure; filiform wats have thread-like growths; periungual warts form under/around nails.
Salicylic acid is a common over-the-counter treatment for removing warts. It works by dissolving layers of the wart little by little.
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All You Need to Know About Warts

Understanding Warts: An Overview

Warts are common, benign skin tumors caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear in various forms and sizes, ranging from small, fleshy lumps to flat, wart-like lesions. Warts can affect individuals of all ages and are often contagious through direct contact with infected skin. While generally harmless, warts can cause discomfort, affect self-confidence, and lead to secondary infections.

Identifying the Symptoms of Warts

Warts typically manifest as skin lesions that vary in appearance and location. Common wart symptoms include:

  • Small, raised, fleshy growths with a rough surface
  • Flat, smooth warts with a slightly raised border
  • Filiform warts, which are thread-like projections
  • Plantar warts, which occur on the soles of the feet
  • Periungual warts, which develop around the nails

Warts can appear singly or in clusters and may cause itching, pain, or bleeding if irritated.

Causes and Risk Factors of Warts

Warts are caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus with over 100 different strains, some of which are responsible for causing various types of warts. The virus is typically transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual or by touching contaminated surfaces.

Risk factors for contracting warts include:

  • Skin breaks or cuts, allowing the virus to enter the body
  • Compromised immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infection
  • Sharing personal items like towels or razors with an infected person
  • Walking barefoot in public areas, where the virus can be present

Different Types and Stages of Warts

Warts can be classified into various types based on their appearance and location:

Common Warts:

These are the most common type, appearing as small, raised, fleshy growths with a rough surface. They are often found on the hands, fingers, and knees.

Plantar Warts:

These occur on the soles of the feet and can cause pain and discomfort while walking. They often appear as flat, wart-like lesions.

Periungual Warts:

These develop around the nails, often causing discoloration and deformity of the nail. They can be particularly stubborn and challenging to treat.

Flat Warts:

These are small, flat warts with a smooth surface. They often appear in clusters on the face, neck, and arms.

Filiform Warts:

These are thread-like projections often found on the face, neck, and eyelids. They are typically small and may have a skin-colored or slightly darker appearance.

Diagnosis: How Warts are Detected

Warts are typically diagnosed through a physical examination by a healthcare professional. The doctor will examine the lesions and may use a magnifying glass or dermatoscope to get a closer look. In some cases, a biopsy may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis, especially if the wart has an unusual appearance or does not respond to treatment.

Treatment Options for Warts

There are various treatments available for warts, depending on their type and severity. Common treatment methods include:

Salicylic Acid:

This topical medication is applied directly to the wart and works by gradually dissolving the wart tissue.


This is a blistering agent that is applied to the wart, causing a blister to form under the wart. The wart eventually falls off along with the blister.


This involves freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. The wart will typically blister and fall off within a few weeks.

Laser Therapy:

Laser treatments can be used to precisely target and remove warts. This method is often used for difficult-to-treat warts.

Surgical Removal:

In some cases, surgical removal may be necessary for large or stubborn warts.

Prevention Strategies for Warts

Preventing warts is essential to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some preventive measures:

  • Avoid direct contact with warts on other individuals or contaminated surfaces.
  • Keep the skin clean and dry, especially after showering or swimming.
  • Cover cuts and abrasions with waterproof bandages.
  • Avoid biting or picking at warts, as this can spread the infection.
  • Do not share personal items like towels or razors with others.
  • Wear shoes in public areas, such as swimming pools and locker rooms.

Home Remedies and Self-Care for Warts

While medical treatment is often the preferred approach for warts, there are some home remedies and self-care strategies that may help manage warts:

  • Apply apple cider vinegar directly to the wart using a cotton ball or swab.
  • Use a mixture of baking soda and castor oil to form a paste and apply it to the wart.
  • Soak the wart in warm water for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
  • Keep the wart covered with a bandage to prevent spreading.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, to boost the immune system.

Impact of Warts on Daily Life

Warts can have a significant impact on daily life, both physically and emotionally:

  • Physical discomfort: Some warts, especially plantar warts, can cause pain and discomfort during everyday activities like walking.
  • Social stigma: Warts can be unsightly and embarrassing, leading to social isolation and low self-confidence.
  • Emotional distress: The presence of warts can cause anxiety, stress, and depression, particularly if they are visible or difficult to treat.
  • Interference with daily activities: Warts on the hands or feet can interfere with daily activities like writing, typing, or participating in sports.

Long-Term Management of Warts

Warts can be a chronic condition, and managing them long-term is essential to prevent recurrence and complications. This includes:

  • Regular monitoring: Individuals with recurrent warts should be monitored by a healthcare professional to assess the warts’ progress and response to treatment.
  • Maintenance therapy: In some cases, maintenance therapy may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of warts.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can help boost the immune system and reduce the risk of wart outbreaks.

Mental and Emotional Considerations for Warts

Warts can have a significant psychological impact on individuals. The presence of warts can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and social anxiety. This can impact an individual’s quality of life and well-being. It is crucial to provide emotional support and counseling to individuals struggling with the psychological effects of warts. Support groups and online forums can also be beneficial in connecting individuals with others who are going through similar experiences.

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Ask Your Doctor

General Questions for Your Doctor About Warts

Pre-Treatment Guidelines
Treatment Procedures
Post-Treatment Care
Recovery and Healing
Daily Activities
Follow-Up and Monitoring
Treatment Outcomes
Long-Term Management
Scarring and Skin Health
Financial Considerations

In-Depth Research on Warts

Key Research Articles
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