Key Points about Warts

  • Warts are contagious skin growths caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • They may appear as skin-colored, white or pink dots that can be small, raised, and rough to the touch.
  • Warts can spread through skin-to-skin or through shared objects such as razors or towels.

See your doctor if your warts are painful, persist despite home treatment, or are causing you embarrassment.

Overview

Warts are growths on the skin that develop after exposure to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). These growths may appear as skin-colored, white or pink dots that can be small, raised, and rough to the touch—although you should not touch them.

Warts are contagious, and can spread through skin-to-skin contact to other people, or to other areas on your body. Most warts disappear on their own within one to two years, but can also be treated at home or by a physician with freezing, lasers, and skin-peeling acids.

Warts causes

Warts result from exposure to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), through direct skin-contact with the virus or through shared objects carrying the virus. Often, the virus enters through cuts or breaks in the skin, and takes root there to develop warts.

Warts risk factors

You may be more likely to experience warts if you:

  • Are a child or young adult
  • Are immunocompromised

Warts symptoms

Warts commonly appear on the hands and fingers, although they can develop anywhere on the skin. Warts may appear:

  • Skin-colored, pink, or white
  • As raised and rough bumps
  • With black or deep red dots across the top

Warts prevention

You can prevent the spread of warts by:

  • Refraining from touching or coming into direct contact with other people’s warts, and with warts on your own body
  • Avoid biting your fingernails, which can lead the way for the spread of warts
  • Avoid using personal grooming products on your warts, as this can spread warts to other areas on the body

Warts diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose warts through:

  • A physical examination of the area
  • Testing a tissue sample from the wart in a lab

Warts treatment

Most warts disappear on their own within one to two years. If you choose to receive treatment, your doctor may use or recommend the following methods:

  • Freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen
  • Applying acids that cause skin peeling, such as salicylic acid
  • Surgical removal of the wart
  • Laser removal of the wart

When to seek care

See your doctor if your warts are painful, if they persist despite home treatment, or if they are causing you embarrassment.

Next Steps

Once one wart disappears, others may pop up. Warts can take several years to go away completely.