What You Need to Know About Common Skin Warts

Health Writer

Common warts are small growths of skin. They are often bumpy on the surface and usually appear on the fingers or hands, although they can appear on other parts of the body. They are most common in children and young adults, but can occur at any age. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost everyone has a wart at some time in their life.

The following are 9 things you might not know about common warts:

1.** Warts are caused by the ** human papillomavirus** (HPV.)** While not dangerous, they are contagious. They can be spread by skin to skin contact or if you touch something that was in contact with the wart.

2.** You are more likely to get a wart if you are exposed to HPV** in a place where you have broken skin. Other factors that can increase your risk of getting a wart include using communal bathrooms or showers, handling raw meat or fish, or taking medication that can weaken your immune system. Women who are pregnant also have a higher risk of developing a wart.

3. Warts are usually skin-colored, or can have a gray tint. They can have small black dots on their surface. These dots are called seeds; they are small broken blood vessels.

4. Common warts usually disappear on their own, but because they can spread, so you might want to take steps to remove them.

5.** Duct tape may do it.** The tape works by suffocating the virus. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, studies have shown conflicting results as to whether this method works. If you want to try it, cover the wart with a small piece of duct tape, changing the tape every few days. When changing the tape, use a pumice stone to gently remove dead tissue. Wait several hours before covering with tape again.

6.** Over-the-counter treatments**, such as products containing salicylic acid can help, but it is important to follow directions and be patient. It can take weeks or months for the wart to go away completely.

7.** You should see your doctor if your wart does not go away**, returns after treatment, grows larger, spreads, bleeds, is painful, or if you have warts on your face, genitals, or rectum.

8.** If a wart is bothersome, your doctor can remove the wart** by freezing or burning it. If a wart is caused by a weakened immune system, your doctor might

recommend immune boosting medications.

9.** Some people are more prone to developing warts than others.** Doctors aren’t sure why, but it might be because of a weakened immune system or a genetic predisposition.

There isn’t any way to prevent warts, but you can decrease the risk by washing your hands regularly and keeping your skin free of cuts. If you use public bathrooms or showers, always wear rubber soled shoes or flip flops and use clean towels. Also be careful not to touch someone else’s wart.


Papillomas (Warts). PubMedHealth. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022704/. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Warts. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/warts - symptoms. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.