Dermatologist examines spots on a patient's back


Wart Overview

Warts are a common benign (non-cancerous) skin growth caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts can appear on any part of the body, but you will mostly notice them on your hands and feet. They may vary in shape, size and color and occasionally be tender or painful. Warts are contagious and easily spread by direct contact.

Warts can sometimes go away without treatment, but in cases where they do not, some treatments effectively remove them.

More than 3 million people are diagnosed with warts each year in the U.S. Anyone can get a wart, but those most at risk of developing warts include children and young adults or people with weakened immune systems. Also, once you have had a wart, you are likely to develop more.

people are diagnosed with warts each year


Wart Symptoms

Different types of warts have various symptoms.

Common warts

Typically grow on fingers and toes but can develop anywhere on your body. They appear rough and grainy with a rounded top and usually grayish color.

Plantar warts

These grow on the soles (bottoms) of feet. They may appear hard and dark in color and can be tender or painful when walking.

Flat warts

These small, flat and pink, yellow, or brown spots may appear on the arms, face or thighs.

Periungal warts

These warts form around and under fingernails and toenails and can be painful or affect nail growth.

Filiform warts

Most commonly grow on the neck, under the chin or around the nose and mouth and generally are the same color as the skin.

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Genital warts

These sexually transmitted warts typically appear as small brown bumps.


Wart Diagnosis

The first step to diagnosing the bump is to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Your doctor will ask about your and your family’s medical history and will examine the spot. If your doctor suspects a wart, they may scrape off the top layer to check for the dark, pinpoint dots common in warts. Alternately, they may remove a small portion of the wart to biopsy it to rule out other types of skin disorders.


Wart Treatments

Although warts usually go away on their own, many people choose to have them removed because they feel it takes too long for them to clear. Some treatments include:

Topical Medications

Topical Medications

These medicines work by removing layers a little at a time, so repeated applications are necessary.

Freezing (cryotherapy)

Freezing (cryotherapy)

Liquid nitrogen freezes warts, and multiple treatments are usually necessary.

Trichloroacetic Acid

Trichloroacetic Acid

After shaving the surface of the wart, the doctor applies trichloroacetic acid. This method removes layers at a time, so repeated applications are necessary.

Minor Surgery

Minor Surgery

The doctor removes the wart with a scalpel.

Pulsed-Dye Laser

Pulsed-Dye Laser

Lasers can burn the wart’s blood vessels, causing the wart to fall off.

An HPV vaccination may prevent future outbreaks.


Wart Specialists

1811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 110, Santa Monica, CA 90403

1811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 110, Santa Monica, CA 90403