Warts and verrucas


Warts and verrucas are types of skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts appear as raised, rough bumps on the skin, while verrucas are smooth and flat. Both are contagious and can be spread by skin contact or sharing of contaminated items. Treatment may involve topical treatments, laser therapy, or removal with a scalpel. It is important to seek medical advice if the growths become painful or if there are signs of infection.


The most common symptoms of warts and verrucas are raised, hard, skin-colored bumps on the skin. These bumps may feel rough and often have a pattern of small black dots in the center, which are the tiny capillaries that feed the wart. Warts can also be painful when touched or pressure is applied. Verrucas, which are warts on the feet, may also cause burning, itching, or tingling.


The main known cause of warts and verrucas is the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is highly contagious and is spread through contact with an infected person, such as contact with their skin or clothing. HPV can also be spread from one area of your own body to another, such as from the hands to the feet. Other possible causes of warts and verrucas include weakened immune systems, excessive sweating, and contact with surfaces that have been infected with the virus.

Risk factors

The risk factors for developing warts and verrucas include:

  • Having a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments
  • Having close contact with someone who has a wart or verruca
  • Participating in high-risk activities, such as sharing personal items, that can cause skin-to-skin contact
  • Having warm and moist feet since moist environments can provide a breeding ground for the virus
  • Having a history of cuts and scrapes which can provide an entry point for the virus
  • Being exposed to rough surfaces, such as walking barefoot in public places, can increase the risk of warts


Warts and verrucas are typically diagnosed by a visual examination. The doctor will look closely at the skin to identify the type of growth and determine whether it is warts or verrucas. In some cases, the doctor may take a small sample of cells from the growth to examine under a microscope. This test is known as a skin biopsy.


Warts are caused by a viral infection of the skin and can appear anywhere on the body. Warts can be divided into several subtypes, each with its own unique characteristics:

  1. Common Warts: These are the most common type of wart and appear as raised, fleshy bumps on the hands, feet, and other areas of the body.
  2. Plantar Warts: These warts are found on the bottom of the foot and can cause pain when walking. They appear as firm, grayish bumps with small black dots in the center.
  3. Flat Warts: These warts appear as small, flat, flesh-colored bumps and are most often found on the face, arms, and legs.
  4. Filiform Warts: These warts appear as long, narrow growths around the mouth, nose, and chin.
  5. Periungual Warts: These warts grow around (and sometimes under) the nails.

Verrucas are distinct from warts, as they are caused by a different virus and appear as hard, flat growths with a rough surface. They are most often found on the soles of the feet.


Treatment options for warts and verrucas depend on their size and location. Common treatments include over-the-counter topical salicylic acid, cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen), surgical excision, electrosurgery, and laser therapy. More recently, laser therapy and topical imiquimod cream have been used to treat warts and verrucas. If a wart or verruca is resistant to these treatments, then it may be necessary to try immunotherapy, which is a type of therapy that helps boost the body’s immune system to fight off the wart or verruca. In some instances, a person may need to receive a combination of treatments to get rid of their wart or verruca.


There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of warts and verrucas:

  1. Avoid contact with infected people or objects, such as towels and shoes.
  2. Wear shoes or sandals in public places, such as gym showers or locker rooms.
  3. Keep the affected area clean and dry.
  4. Avoid direct contact with warts or verrucas on other people.
  5. Disinfect any tools or surfaces that may have come into contact with the warts or verrucas.
  6. Regularly apply a topical wart or verruca treatment and consult your doctor for a prescription if needed.
  7. Use a good moisturizing lotion, especially in the winter when skin is dry.
  8. Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight to help boost your immune system.
  9. Exercise regularly and maintain a good overall level of fitness.
  10. 0. Avoid smoking, as this can weaken the immune system.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of warts and verrucas. Specifically, warts are more common in males, while verrucas are more common in females. Additionally, differences in the location and presentation of the lesions are observed. Warts are more likely to occur on the face, head, and hands in males, while they are more likely to occur on the feet in females. Verrucas, on the other hand, are more likely to occur on the feet in both males and females. In terms of management, males are more likely to require cryotherapy for the treatment of warts, while females are more likely to require topical agents to treat verrucas. Furthermore, males may require more frequent treatments for warts than females.


Nutrition plays an important role in the management of warts and verrucas. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods can help strengthen the immune system and make it better equipped to fight off the virus that causes warts and verrucas. Additionally, avoiding sugar and processed foods can reduce inflammation and strengthen the body’s ability to fight off these viruses. Supplements, such as vitamins C, B, A and E, zinc, and selenium may also be beneficial for helping to prevent and treat warts and verrucas.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can be beneficial for warts and verrucas in some ways. Regular physical activity can boost your immune system, which may help your body fight off any existing warts or verrucas. Exercise also helps keep your skin healthy and increases blood flow, which can help the skin heal faster. Additionally, increased activity improves circulation and can reduce stress, which may help speed up the process of healing. Finally, physical activity can reduce perspiration, which may help to prevent the spread of warts and verrucas.

Further Reading

  1. https://patient.info/skin-conditions/warts-and-verrucas-leaflet
  2. https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/ld/warts-and-verrucas-assessment-and-treatment
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431047/
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/warts-and-verrucas/
  5. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/warts
  6. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/warts-treatment

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