Health A to Z
Warts are small lumps that develop on the skin. Verrucas are a type of wart that affect the bottom of the feet.
Most people will have warts at some point in their life. They're generally harmless and tend to go away on their own eventually, but this can take months or even years.
Several treatments you can try at home can help get rid of warts and verrucas more quickly if you have one that you find uncomfortable or embarrassing.
Warts can be spread around the body and to other people.
This page covers:
There are separate pages about genital warts.
Warts and verrucas come in all shapes and sizes. They can affect any part of the body, but are more common on the hands and feet.
Most warts and verrucas will eventually clear up without treatment.
They can be removed with over-the-counter treatments, but these can be time consuming, painful and don't always work.
Pharmacy treatments include:
There's not enough evidence to suggest applying duct tape to a wart or verruca works, so this isn't generally recommended.
Always check the leaflet that comes with the medication to check it's suitable and to see how to use it. Ask a pharmacist if you're not sure.
Salicylic acid needs to be applied every day. Before using it:
While you have a wart or verruca, you should also take steps to avoid passing it to others.
See your GP for advice if:
If pharmacy treatments haven't helped, your GP may try freezing the wart off with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy). This will take a number of sessions and can be painful. It can also sometimes lead to blistering, infection and scarring.
If this doesn't work, they may be able to refer you to a skin doctor (dermatologist) for specialist treatments such as a minor operation, laser therapy or stronger creams.
Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This causes an excess of a substance called keratin to develop in the top layer of skin, resulting in a hard, rough lump.
Warts don't spread easily, but they can be passed on from person to person through close skin contact or contact with contaminated objects or surfaces, such as:
You're more likely to get infected if your skin is wet or damaged. After becoming infected, it can take weeks or even months for a wart or verruca to appear.
It's difficult to prevent warts and verrucas completely, but the following measures can help stop them spreading: