Warts: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment and Prognosis

They are generally small, rough and hard growths that are similar in color to the rest of the skin.

They usually do not produce symptoms, except on the bottom of the feet, where they can be painful.

Although they usually occur on the hands and feet, they can affect other locations as well. One or many warts may appear. They are not cancerous.

Causes of warts

Warts are caused by infection with a type of human papillomavirus. Factors that increase risk include the use of public showers, working with meat, eczema, and a low immune system.

Types and symptoms

A variety of wart types have been identified, varying in shape and site affected, as well as the type of human papillomavirus involved.

There are several types including common warts, plantar warts, filiform warts, and genital warts:

Common wart:  A raised wart with a rough surface, often found on the hands, but can grow anywhere on the body. It is sometimes known as Palmer’s wart or Junior wart.

Flat wart: it  is a small, smooth flattened, flesh-colored wart that can occur in large numbers; most common on the face, neck, hands, wrists, and knees.

Filiform or fingered  wart : it is a wart shaped like a thread or finger, it is very common on the face, especially near the eyelids and lips.

Genital wart:  occurs on the genitals. Genital warts are often sexually transmitted.

Mosaic wart:  is a group of grouped plantar warts, often on the hands or soles of the feet.

Periungual wart: A group of cauliflower-like warts that occurs around the nails.

Plantar wart: it  is a hard lump that usually occurs on the soles of the feet. It is usually painful, with multiple black spots in the center.

Treatment of warts

Without treatment, most types of warts resolve within months or years. Various treatments can speed up resolution.

Treatment of genital warts differs from other types. There are many treatments and procedures associated with wart removal.

A review of clinical trials of various skin wart treatments concluded that topical treatments containing salicylic acid were more effective than placebo.

Cryotherapy appears to be as effective as salicylic acid , but there have been fewer trials.


Salicylic acid can be prescribed by a dermatologist in a higher concentration than found in over-the-counter products.

Several over-the-counter products are available in pharmacies and supermarkets of about two types: salicylic acid-treated adhesive pads and packaged salicylic acid concentrated solution.

Imiquimod: is a topical cream that helps the body’s immune system fight the wart virus by promoting the production of interferon. It has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for genital warts.

Cantharidin – Found naturally on the bodies of many members of the Meloidae family of beetles, it causes skin blisters. It is used alone or compounded with podophyllin. It is not FDA approved, but is available through Canada or some American compounding pharmacies.

Bleomycin – is not approved by the US FDA and can cause necrosis of the fingers and Raynaud’s syndrome. The usual treatment is one or two injections.

Dinitrochlorobenzene –  Like salicylic acid, it is applied directly to the wart. Studies show that this method is effective with a cure rate of 80%.

Cidofovir: is an antiviral drug that is injected into HPV lesions within the larynx as an experimental treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is effective in treating flat warts.


  • Keratolysis.
  • Electrodesiccation.
  • Cryosurgery.
  • Surgical curettage of the wart.
  • Laser treatment.
  • Infrared coagulator.
  • Tape Occlusion Therapy.


In those who are otherwise healthy, they generally do not result in significant problems.