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Warts are small noncancerous skin growths that form in the top layers of the skin following a viral infection. Warts tend to be rough and bumpy. However, the texture and appearance will vary between different forms of warts. The two most prevalent types of warts are common warts and plantar warts.

Warts are small noncancerous skin growths that form in the top layers of the skin following a viral infection. Warts tend to be rough and bumpy. However, the texture and appearance will vary between different forms of warts. The two most prevalent types of warts are common warts and plantar warts.

Common warts, as the name suggests, are the most common type of wart. They’re typically found on the hands, most often on the fingers, although they can grow anywhere on the hands as well as other areas of the body. They’re not usually painful. There are a number of characteristics associated with common warts.

  • Common warts are typically small although they can range in size. Some are as small as a pinhead while others are as large as a pea.
  • Common warts are round or irregular in shape, and they’re usually rough and firm in texture.
  • Some common warts appear to have tiny black dots, which are blood vessels.
  • The color of a common wart can vary, appearing brown, light gray, flesh-colored, yellow or even grayish-black.

Plantar warts can be found on the soles of the feet, most commonly the heels and balls of the feet. Because these areas often bear weight, plantar warts are often subjected to large amounts of pressure and this can lead to pain and discomfort when standing or walking. The pressure can also cause plantar warts to flatten or even grow inward, often under a layer of thick skin. Plantar warts have some distinguishing physical features.

  • Plantar warts often resemble a callus or thickened skin.
  • Like common warts, plantar warts contain blood vessels, which may appear as tiny black dots.
  • Plantar warts often grow in clusters.


Warts are caused by a form of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can enter the skin through a cut or scratch and cause infection, resulting in a wart.

HPV can spread a number of ways, including:

  • Contact between two people. If you touch someone’s wart, the virus could spread and enter your skin through a cut or scrape, causing a wart to grow.
  • Contact with a contaminated object. Personal items such as nail clippers and razors can become contaminated with HPV. If you share personal items with someone who has warts, you could become infected and get a wart yourself.
  • Contact with a contaminated surface. If someone with warts walks barefoot in a public area such as a swimming pool or locker room, the surface floor could become contaminated. If you walk barefoot in the same area, the HPV virus could enter your skin and cause an infection. This could lead to a wart.
  • Contact between two body parts. If you have a wart, you can spread the infection to another part of the body by touching the wart and then touching other areas of skin.


There are ways to reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes common and plantar warts:

  • Don’t touch another person’s wart since direct contact can spread the virus. This could cause you to become infected and get a wart.
  • If you have a wart, wash your hands after touching it. Cover the wart in order to avoid spreading the virus to someone else or to another part of your body.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as nail clippers and razors because they may be contaminated with the virus. If you have a wart, be sure to wash any personal items thoroughly after use. Wash towels, socks and linens regularly.
  • Avoid biting your nails and ripping off hangnails since the virus that causes warts can enter your skin through small tears and sores.
  • Keep your skin hydrated since dry, cracked skin is more vulnerable to infection.
  • Wear shoes when walking around public areas such as swimming pools and locker rooms since high-traffic surfaces could be contaminated, potentially spreading the virus that causes warts.


There are two over-the-counter treatments for warts:

Salicylic acid exfoliates the cells of a wart in order to reduce the skin growth little by little. Dr. Scholl’s® Clear Away® Fast-Acting Liquid Wart Remover is a liquid wart removal product that’s applied directly to the skin. It can be used once or twice a day for up to 12 weeks. The package includes cover-up discs that help conceal the wart and reduce the risk of spread. When using a salicylic acid wart removal product, follow these steps for best results:

  • Wash the wart and surrounding skin thoroughly.
  • Soak the wart in warm water for up to five minutes.
  • Allow the area to completely dry.
  • Apply the wart removal solution one drop at a time until the entire wart is covered.
  • Let the solution dry completely before covering it with a cushion or putting on shoes or socks.

Dr. Scholl’s® CLEAR Away® Plantar Wart Remover provides an easy mess-free system for treating plantar warts while also reducing discomfort. Medicated discs contain salicylic acid for effective wart removal while cushioning pads relieve pressure on and around the wart. The pads also help conceal the wart and medicated disc.

CLEAR Away® Wart Remover with DURAGEL® technology is a highly effective treatment for common warts. The technology is ideal for fingers and toes. Medicated discs containing salicylic acid are placed directly on the wart. Thin, lightweight cushions can then be placed directly over the disc in order to conceal and protect. The flexible cushions are designed to move with you and stay in place throughout the day.

Freezing is a wart treatment method that involves applying a very cold substance directly to the wart in order to remove it. Over-the-counter wart freezing products typically use a gas called dimethyl ether and propane as the freezing agent. Dr. Scholl’s® Freeze Away® Wart Remover quickly freezes warts to eliminate them in as little as one treatment. You can also try Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away Max™ wart remover, which provides a precision spray of cooling gas for simple, single-action wart removal.

For particularly stubborn common and plantar warts, Dr. Scholl’s® Dual Action Freeze Away® Wart Remover combines a freezing treatment with salicylic acid medication in a single package. You can start using the salicylic acid medication 24 hours following the freezing treatment.

If over-the-counter treatments fail to eliminate a wart, see your doctor. There are a number of more aggressive options available:

  • Cryotherapy involves freezing the wart, much like over-the-counter treatments. However, doctors typically use liquid nitrogen. You may need several treatments spaced two or three weeks apart in order to eliminate a wart.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage involves drying the wart with an electric needle and then physically removing the wart with a scraping tool. The procedure is not usually recommended for plantar warts.
  • Prescription drugs may be recommended for warts that don’t respond to over-the-counter treatments. Options range from topical medications to injections.

See your doctor if you have concerns about a wart, especially if the wart grows rapidly or if there’s bleeding. Some more serious skin conditions could be mistaken for a wart and may require medical attention.



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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a wart look like?

Not all warts look alike. The appearance of warts will vary depending on the variety. Appearance and location can help to identify a wart.

1.) Common warts are skin growths that usually form on the hands and feet, especially the fingers and toes. These warts are rough in texture and can be very small, like the size of a pinhead, or they can be bigger, like the size of a pea. These warts often have a cauliflower appearance to them.

2.) Flat warts typically grow on the cheeks and forehead. They are usually brown in color and are smooth and slightly raised.

3.) Periungual warts are normally found under the toenails and fingernails.

4.) Plantar warts are generally found on the bottom of the feet, especially the heels and the balls of the feet. Plantar warts often resemble thickened or callused skin, and they may have a visible black dot.

5.) Filiform warts are long and spiked in forming a mat-like appearance appearance, typically forming on or around the nose, eyes and mouth. They tend to grow quickly.

6.) Genital warts form on the anus and genitals. They may be flat or bumpy. The typical color varies from pink to light or dark brown.

Are warts contagious?

Yes, the virus that causes warts (a strain of human papillomavirus) is contagious. The virus can spread from person to person through touching and from contact with personal items and commonly touched surfaces.

How do you get warts?

Warts are caused by a type of human papillomavirus. The virus can be transmitted through personal contact and also when people share personal items or walk barefoot in public areas. The virus can then enter the skin through a cut or a scratch or abraded skin, allowing the virus to enter the skin and causing a wart to develop.

What causes plantar warts?

Plantar warts form when a type of virus, the human papillomavirus, enters the skin on the foot, typically by means of a scratch or a cut. The virus causes skin cells on the foot to grow quickly, resulting in a plantar wart.

What causes warts on hands?

Warts on the hands are called common warts and are caused by a type of human papillomavirus which can enter the skin via a cut or scratch. The virus then causes rapid skin growth which results in a wart.

How do warts form?

Warts form when a type of human papillomavirus enters the skin and causes accelerated production of cells in the top layer of the skin, creating a growth.

What is a plantar wart?

A plantar wart is a type of wart that is usually found on the bottom of the feet, most commonly on the balls of the feet and the heels.

Do warts itch?

Warts may or may not itch. Some warts can become irritated from rubbing against clothing or shoes. Warts can also become itchy if the surrounding skin is dry and flaky.

Do warts hurt?

Some warts hurt, usually as a result of friction or pressure. Plantar warts are often painful because they are typically located on the bottom of the feet. Friction from shoes rubbing against the skin along with pressure exerted from standing or walking can cause pain and discomfort in some cases.

Do frogs give you warts?

No, frogs do not give people warts. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus which is only found in humans.