Skin Warts
More information about selected concern

Skin Warts

Warts are a type of skin growth that is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a virus that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or sexual contact. There are many different types of HPV, and some types can cause warts on the genitals. Other types of HPV can cause warts on other parts of the body, such as the hands or feet.

Warts are usually painless, but they can sometimes be itchy or uncomfortable. Most warts go away on their own over time, but some can linger for years. In some cases, skin warts may need to be treated with medication or surgery.

Genital warts vs. skin tags

There are a few key differences between genital warts and skin tags. Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), while skin tags are not. Genital warts can cause pain, itching, or bleeding, while skin tags typically do not. Genital warts can also be cancerous, while skin tags are not. 

If you are concerned about growth on your genitals, it is best to speak with a doctor to determine whether it is a wart or something else. If you are concerned about growth on your skin, speak with a doctor to determine what it is and whether it needs treatment. Skin tags are generally harmless, but if you are experiencing any symptoms, see a doctor.

Symptoms of skin warts

Warts occur on the hands or fingers and maybe:

  • Flesh colored, slightly raised bumps
  • Small, smooth, and shiny
  • Slightly elevated above the skin surface
  • With black pinpoints that are tiny, clotted blood vessels

Most warts on the skin are painless but can be irritated by pressure or contact. Warts may also itch, bleed, or become infected. Occasionally, warts may develop on other parts of the body. Genital warts, which are sexually transmitted, are a different type of wart.

What are the causes of skin warts?

Infection: When HPV (Human Pappilo Virus) enters the skin through a cut, it results in a skin infection that develops as warts. It is a common virus and there are more than 150 kinds. Some kinds of HPV can cause warts on the genital area. The virus can be spread by touching an infected surface and then touching another part of the body. Wearing tight clothing or shoes that rub against the skin can also cause warts to form.

Weakened immune system: When the immune system is weakened, it can't fight off the HPV virus and warts will form. This can be caused by illnesses such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and taking medications that weaken the immune system.

Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to developing warts. This means that they are more likely to get them, but it doesn't mean that they will definitely get them.

Other factors: There are some other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing warts, such as using public swimming pools and being exposed to the sun for long periods of time. However, not everyone who swims in a public pool will get warts and not everyone who is exposed to the sun will get them either.

What are the treatment options for skin warts?

Topicals: Your doctor may suggest a topical cream or ointment to treat your skin warts. Topicals work by destroying the wart tissue. They are usually applied once or twice a day for several weeks. Salicylic acid is one type of topical that is commonly used to treat skin warts. It works by breaking down the wart tissue. If it does not work, the physician may prescribe a stronger topical such as the chemical cantharidin.  It is applied to the wart and then covered with a bandage. The blister that forms will eventually fall off, taking the wart with it.  Other types of topicals that may be prescribed include imiquimod (Aldara) and podophyllin. These are both Topical immunomodulators, which stimulate the body's immune system to fight the wart virus.

Wart removal under local anesthesia: Wart removal under local anesthesia is a treatment option where the wart is numbed with an anesthetic and then removed with a scalpel or other sharp object. The advantage of this type of wart removal is that the physician can see what they are doing and make sure all of the wart tissue is removed. It is also less painful than some of the other treatment options. However, it can be expensive and takes longer to heal than some of the other options. If you are considering wart removal under local anesthesia, make sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this treatment.

Suggested/Recommended treatments

Related Medicines