What’s a wart and how to treat them

What causes warts

Warts are very common and appear as small rough lumps or growths on the backs of fingers or toes, around the nails, and on the knees.

They sometimes look like 'a cauliflower'. Verrucas or plantar warts are found on the soles of the foot. They grow inward into the foot and can be quite painful when you stand or walk. Plane warts have a flat surface. They are often found in clusters, and tend to appear in a line.

What causes warts?

Warts are caused by different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The strains of HPV that cause harmless warts on your hands, legs or feet are different to those that cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Warts form when the HPV virus infects the top layer of your skin and causes your skin cells to grow very fast.

Warts are not considered very contagious, but they can be spread by close contact with someone.

Treating warts

Warts are usually harmless. Most often they go away on their own within months or years. But if they spread or cause pain, or if you don't like the way they look, you may want to treat them.

Treatment can often clear warts more quickly, but treatments are time-consuming and some can be uncomfortable or painful. The most commonly used treatments are wart paints or gel (also called topical treatment) and freezing treatment.

If you think you have a wart or would like more information about treatments, see your doctor or speak to your local Life Pharmacist. 


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