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Warts are common skin infections that occur on almost any part of the body. While most warts are harmless, they are contagious, meaning they can spread to other parts of the body and other people, and can cause embarrassment, discomfort and pain.5b


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Common warts are small fleshy growths on the skin usually light grey, pink or brown in colour. They occur when the skin becomes infected with a contagious virus called HPV. This virus can be picked up by direct contact with a person who has a wart, or by coming into contact with the same surface that a person with a wart has touched. Warts are fairly commonplace so a popular question which naturally arises is how to remove a wart.
Warts are most frequently found in children but can appear at any age and can be found on any part of the body. They are more likely to show up on the hands, fingers, fingernails, elbows, knees and the feet.2a,3a,4a Often disappearing on their own over time, warts are not normally painful unless you have one on the underside of your foot.5
Most warts are a minor inconvenience and not a serious, life-threatening condition but they may cause some discomfort or embarrassment. As they can be unsightly, most people do look for remedies to remove them rather than waiting for them to fall off, which may take a year or two. Warts can also come back


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Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infecting the top level of your skin. Each person’s immune system responds differently to viruses, so some people who come into contact with HPV will get a wart, others will not. Also, there are 100 different strains of the HPV virus.6a for example, the strain that causes common warts is not the same as the one that causes genital warts.6b

You cannot get warts from touching or kissing frogs. Likewise, you cannot get rid of warts by using hypnosis, garlic or dipping them in yoghurt, or covering them with duct tape


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Different types of warts are identified by where they grow on the body and what they look like.3b


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Common warts, also called verrucas, most commonly develop on the fingers, around the nails, the hands, and the knees, elbows and face. They can also occur elsewhere, in areas where there is broken skin from biting fingernails or from open wounds.3c Common warts are fleshy, dome-shaped, skin-coloured and often rough-textured.7c
The word ‘verucca’ dates back to ancient Rome and Greece, meaning steep place, height or hill. In the sixteenth century, the German physician, Daniel Sennert used the term to describe warts because they look like small hills10


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Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet but also under the toes. They are often flat or grow inward caused by pressure from walking. Described as feeling like you have small stones in your shoe they are uncomfortable and often painful.3d When occurring in clusters they are called mosaic warts. Deep plantar warts are called myrmercia.11


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Flat warts, also called plane warts, are smaller and smoother than other warts, can occur anywhere and tend to appear in clusters – 20 to 100 at a time.3e


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Filiform warts have long, narrow spike-like projections and tend to grow on the face, around the eyes, nose and mouth.12


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Developing around the fingernail or toenail, periungual warts appear as thickened skin around the nail.13a They may disturb nail growth and can cause nail loss.13b People who bite their nails are more likely to get periungual warts.
Palmar = relating to or located on the hand
Plantar = relating to or located on the sole of the foot


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Warts are contagious and can spread by skin-to-skin contact to other parts of your body and to other people. 7a If you constantly touch or pick at your wart and touch another part of your body or someone else’s skin, or if you have an open wound (cut or scrape) that touches someone else’s wart, they may spread.7b, 8
Warts can also spread indirectly through fomites, which are objects, materials or surfaces likely to carry infection, for example moist places such as swimming pools or bathrooms.9a


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Warts are among the 3 most common skin conditions treated.9e A dermatologist (skin doctor) can usually tell if you have a wart by looking at it. While warts often go away without treatment, and can be self-treated if they persist, treatment requires an individualised approach. Always consult your doctor or dermatologist if:

  • A young child or infant has a growth anywhere on the body
  • There are many warts
  • The wart becomes painful, red, itches, is swollen, bleeding or oozing pus 3g, 4c


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Warts can be successfully treated at home or by a doctor. A doctor can cut off a wart or use a special instrument to scrape it but this may leave scarring. It is also recommended to consult a doctor if you have a plantar wart under the foot which may need to be cut or cauterized with liquid nitrogen. This is called cryotherapy. Diabetics who have issues with their feet or people who suffer from nerve damage in the feet or neuropathy, must consult a doctor for treatment rather than use a home remedy.


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A flexible liquid application can also be used to remove warts, while forming a waterproof covering over the wart. This can be used as follows:

  1. Soak foot in hot water for 5 minutes and towel dry.
  2. Rub wart with a pumice stone or emery board.
  3. Mask off the skin around the wart with Vaseline or cut a hole in a plaster and stick it over the wart with the wart sticking through. This is to protect the healthy skin from the acid in the liquid application.
  4. Apply the liquid to the wart using the applicator (avoiding the surrounding skin).
  5. Allow to dry and cover with a plaster if necessary.
  6. It is important to reapply twice a day until the wart has cleared. This can take up to 2 weeks.
  7. A liquid wart removal application is not to be used on the face and neck. It is for external use only and is not to be used on genital warts.

⦁ Healthline. Warts. Available at: 12 April 2019. ⦁ Medical News Today. How to treat a wart. Available at: ⦁ https://www.medicalnewstoda⦁ y⦁ .com/articles/155039.php. Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ American Academy of Dermatology. Warts: Overview. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Kids Health. First Aid: Warts. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Johns Hopkins Medicine. Warts in Children. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ NHS inform. Genital warts. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Mayo Clinic. Common Warts. Available at: ⦁⦁ m⦁ mon-warts/symptoms-causes/syc-20371125. Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Healthline. How Do Warts Spread and How Can You Prevent This? Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Lipke MM. An Armamentarium of Wart Treatments. Clinical Medicine & Research 2006;4(4):273-293. ⦁ Springer. From the humble wart to HPV: A fascinating story throughout the centuries. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Medscape. What are physical manifestations of deep palmoplantar nongenital warts (myrmercia)? Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Healthline. Filiform Warts: Causes, Removal, and Home Remedies. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Medical News Today. How do you get rid of periungual warts? Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Wisconsin Foot Center. Myth vs. Reality – Wart Treatment & Prevention. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Planned Parenthood. How can I prevent getting or spreading genital warts? Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Cleveland Clinic. Genital Warts: Prevention. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Medical News. Dental Dams: Everything you need to know. Available at: Accessed 12 April 2019. ⦁ Drugbank. Benzoin resin {Online] Available at Accessed November 2018.

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