Warts and verrucas 

Introduction 

Warts are small, rough, non-cancerous lumps that often appear on the hands and feet 

Genital warts

Genital warts are small, fleshy growths that develop around the genital or anal area.

In England, genital warts are the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) after chlamydia.

Like other types of warts, genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They can be spread during sex.

Read more about genital warts.

Warts are small, rough lumps that often develop on the skin of the hands and feet.

Warts vary in appearance depending on where they are on the body and how thick the skin is. They can develop in isolation or in clusters and are non-cancerous.

Some warts are more likely to affect particular areas of the body. For example, verrucas are warts that usually develop on the soles of the feet.

Most people will have warts at some point in their life. They tend to affect children and teenagers more than adults.

Read more about the symptoms of warts.

What causes warts?

Warts are caused by an infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV).

The virus causes an excess amount of keratin, a hard protein, to develop in the top skin layer (epidermis). The extra keratin produces the rough, hard texture of a wart.

Read more about the causes of warts.

Are warts contagious?

Warts are very contagious, and close skin-to-skin contact can pass on the infection.

The infection can also be transmitted indirectly from contaminated objects or surfaces, such as the area surrounding a swimming pool.

After becoming infected, it can take weeks or even months for a wart or verruca to appear.

When to see your GP

Most types of warts are easy to identify because they have a distinctive appearance. Although, you should always see your GP if you have a growth on your skin you are unable to identify or are worried about.

Your GP will be able to tell if it's a wart simply by looking at it. Where it is on your body and how it affects surrounding skin will also be taken into consideration.

You should also visit your GP if you have a wart that:

  • bleeds
  • changes in appearance
  • spreads
  • causes you significant pain, distress or embarrassment

Treating warts

Most warts are harmless and clear up without treatment.

The length of time it takes a wart to disappear will vary from person to person. It may take up to two years for the viral infection to leave your system and for the wart to disappear.

You might decide to treat your wart if it is painful, or in an area that is causing discomfort or embarrassment.

Common methods of treatment include:

  • salicylic acid 
  • cryotherapy (freezing the skin cells)
  • duct tape
  • chemical treatments

Treatment for warts is not always completely effective, and a wart will sometimes return following treatment.

Surgery is not usually recommended for warts.

Read more about how warts are treated.

Page last reviewed: 07/09/2012

Next review due: 07/09/2014

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Comments

The 11 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

LUSH 1 said on 26 July 2014

Thought I would share my success story - I had 13 verrucas on my right foot for over 8 years. I always watched where I was walking as standing on cobbles/stones would send a shooting pain right up my leg. I had to regularly use an open razor bade to cut the build up of skin, believe me I tried all the old fashioned remedies (vinegar, banana skin on my foot overnight etc) and visited many chiropodists/doctors. They tried high percentage salicylic acid, liquid nitrogen and even formaldehyde...nothing worked. Then the last option was to inject 5 of them with the idea of killing direct from the root - so painful but I reasoned it would be worth it if it worked...it didnt. Then I met my now husband, who moved in with me and after about 5 months I noticed the 'tingling' feeling was gone. My 'veronicas' totally disappeared.....the reason? Garlic! My hubby always cooks with garlic and I can now say I am 11 years free of them. Worth a try! Hope this helps :-)

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susandt said on 03 January 2014

Hi,

After several surgeries, I could no longer go through them again. My warts always come back, I couldn't keep undergoing surgeries. My boss started to threat firing me because of my surgery recovery times. A friend recommended me to use Wart Removal Method. It really changed my life, now when I have a wart breakout, I can treat at home and it will go away super fast. I wish no one go through what I went. If you can choose, don't undergo surgery. It is worse than having the warts itself!

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NaturalWorks said on 18 November 2013

This may be able to help. I had a Verruca on my thumb that was very painful. I looked up every possible cure there was. What I found to work was pouring ACV into an empty bottle then mixing in chopped garlic, banana peels, epsom salt, and castor oil. I would soak my thumb in the mixture and also at night before going to bed I would use a cotton ball and soak it and apply it to the verrucca. when soften I would scrape the top layer off very carefully not to bleed and then apply the soak cotton ball to it over night with a bandage. after a few days I had no more pain and the verruca is practically gone. it is dried out and Black and I should be able to peel it away soon. Hope this helps someone as it did for me.

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worriedman92 said on 16 October 2013

Hi.
Iv had warts on my hands since I was young
Recently iv noticed one on my genitalia
My ex girlfriend noticed some warts on her own person but when she went for a test she told me she was told they were caused by frequent sex and nothing to worry about.
Im now with a new partner but since the wart only developed recently I wasnt aware and am now afraid I may have, and have given her HPV.
I feel as though iv put a death sentence on her as there is no cure for HPV.
She has no symptoms herself and im hoping she wont have.
If I have the warts removed will this lower the risk of her catching the HVP if she doesnt already have it?
Also is there any way that the wart could be benign?
Does having warts on your hands mean you already have HPV?
Any response will be nice as im very worried.
Thanks

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Jo0204 said on 02 September 2013

Hi there,
I'm after some advice for my four year old son, he's got six warts spread across his fingers by the nail beds, and I'm finding it really difficult to treat. I've tried freezing, with no luck, and have now been using an over the counter medication for about 9 weeks, they don't seem to be improving that much. A couple of days ago he knocked to top off a couple of them and they have bled and are very sore, I've just cleaned them and filed any excess skin away, but I'm not sure what else to do? I'm contemplating going with the duct tape method, or perhaps even laser. He's getting really upset when I apply the medication on a night after his bath, and hates it when I have to file them down - I sometimes have to do this when he's asleep! I saw our GP, who advised me to try and persevere with the medication method, as freezing will be very painful for him?? Any advice would be great. Thanks x

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toastedteacake said on 24 July 2013

I've had 4 verrucas on my right foot for about 15 years! I thought they might go away eventually but no! I had them all frozen at my GP surgery but it didn't work, then tried salycilic acid for about 5 weeks and two of them have now gone - hurrah! ... I've been back for more freezing and am waiting to see what happens... If the remaining two don't go I'll try the salycilic acid again... it obviously takes patience!

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facial warts said on 23 July 2013

hi,
i had warts on my face before 8 months and visit to my GP and they prescribe some cream with contain salicylic acid which i used it for three months. but doesn't work. my GP said he can freeze it but there are chances to get it increse in the amount of warts, or you need to contact dermatologist in private as NHS doesn't cover the treatment. The private doctor charges approximately £1500.00 to £2000.00 per sititing for laser treatment and need to do three to four settings.
i consult dermatologist doctor in india and had the laser treatment last month which cost me only £150.00 for doctor charges and £490 .00 for ticket to india. and result is excellent. no side effect. only one sitting with doctor.

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Enchantment said on 13 June 2013

whew, i'm 15 and had verrucas when i was... 13, i think? i had three, if memory serves - one on my big toe, another on the third toe and a third on the sole of my foot. i was getting so irritated by them; i kept scratching them, but then they'd bleed and i'd get infuriated by that. messy bedsheets (because i tended to focus on them at night) = uncomfortable me. i got them frozen a few times, but like i said, it was just taking too long! so one day, i got some salyclic gel and after putting it on for a week or so, i got so sick of them that i actually ended up ripping them out, haha. in retrospect, i'm really surprised that my feet didn't get infected by ANYTHING afterwards, but i'm not complaining! verrucas are terrible!

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netty1391 said on 08 April 2013

Hi
I suffered for 6years with verrucas and then started to get warts on my hands.
A friend of mine suggested Vitamin C with Zinc. It took about 4 - 6 months and I was overjoyed when they actually disappeared.
I take the Vitamins everyday as I don't want them to reappear.
Its worth a try.

Jeanette

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vixx66 said on 19 January 2013

I've had warts on my feet and hands that have taken years to get rid off having tried all the remedies and treatments the gp could provide. Good house keeping book said to paint nailvarnish on it every day for two weeks or until its gone and for me ten days later its completely gone. Works a treat!

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tra21 said on 04 January 2013

I have had the same verrcas on both feet for 14 years since my daughter wore my shoes. I have tried all the treatments and my GP has frozen them. They are now protuding like warts and are speading to other parts of my feet. Is there anything that will get rid of them???

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