Warts are harmless skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). Although HPV is contagious, the chance of “catching” a wart from someone is small. You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way.
Warts are usually skin-colored and feel rough to the touch, but they can be dark, flat, and smooth. The appearance of a wart depends on where it is growing.
Types of Warts
- Common warts typically grow where skin has been broken. They are often found on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands. They are often called "seed" warts because the blood vessels to the wart produce black dots that look like seeds.
- Filiform warts are small, finger-like projections that often occur on the face around eyelids and lips. They can be yellow, brown, pink, or skin-toned.
- Flat warts are small, pink, or brown slightly elevated bumps that typically occur grouped or in a line as a result of spread from scratching, waxing, or shaving. Flat warts often occur in children and young adults on the face (brows or beard areas), hands, and shins.
- Foot warts are also called plantar warts because they occur on the soles (plantar area) of the feet. Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow into your skin, not out of it.
If you have a wart that needs medical attention, such as one in a delicate area like the face, call Vanguard Skin Specialists today at (719) 355-1585 for an appointment with one of our dermatologists in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or Woodland Park, or request one online. Learn more about warts in the FAQs below.
A wart is a benign growth on the outer layer of the skin. Warts are often flesh-colored, gray, or brown rough bumps with black dots. They are commonly found on hands, around fingernails, elbows, knees, and the bottom of feet.
Warts are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which can infect skin and mucous membranes. There are over 100 different types of HPV. Warts are transmitted by contact, often at sites with trauma or abrasions (biting or picking cuticles and shaving over wart-infected skin).
No, the black dots you see in common warts are thrombosed capillaries that can bleed when pared down. Warts are confined to the epidermis (outer protective layer of skin) and interrupt normal skin lines. When normal skin lines reappear, the wart is gone.
The course of a wart is different for everyone. In children, most warts spontaneously regress in 2-3 years with the development of an immune response. Warts can be more widespread and chronic in immunocompromised patients.
There are a number of topical over-the-counter products you can try. We recommend using one with salicylic acid (Mediplast, DuoFilm, or Compound W) and combining it with duct tape occlusion. Yes, you read that correctly. After applying the salicylic acid, cover the wart with a piece of duct tape cut as close to the size of the wart as possible. Repeat this process every 6 days for 8-12 weeks or until resolved.
You can also try one of the various cryotherapy options (Compound W Freeze Off, Wartner, or Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away).
If you are using an over-the-counter solution, we highly recommend using caution and closely following the directions to avoid damaging the surrounding skin, which can cause a permanent scar.
Your dermatologist offers multiple treatments for warts and no single treatment is consistently highly effective. Unfortunately, multiple visits and treatments are often necessary to successfully treat most warts. Wart treatment typically involves a destructive modality that can cause discomfort and blistering.
Liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) is the most common and often first-line treatment. Other treatments include imiquimod 5% cream (Aldara®), Candida antigen injections, cantharidin blistering agent, electrocautery, and laser treatment.