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Causes & treatments

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Warts are a common skin condition consisting of rough, hard lumps that affect areas such as the hands, feet, knees and face. They can occur one at a time or in small clusters. A wart on the sole of your foot is known as a verruca.

While they are highly unlikely to affect your health, they can be inconvenient, uncomfortable or embarrassing. If you think a growth on your skin could be a wart, speak to a doctor today.

They will be able to tell straight away whether or not it’s a wart and suggest the most appropriate treatment options.


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Wart on a finger
Warts on a finger

What Causes Warts?

Without getting too scientific, a wart occurs when you are infected with a virus called HPV, which causes your skin to produce too much of a protein called keratin. When this happens, it can cause areas of your skin to become rough, hard and in many cases slightly raised.

Warts can sometimes be passed on by coming into contact with the skin of someone with a wart, or touching something they’ve touched. This is considered more likely if their skin is wet, which explains the link we make between verrucas and swimming.

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How to Treat Warts

While most warts will clear up on their own, the length of time this takes will vary from person to person. In some cases, it can take up to two years for a wart to fully disappear and even then, they could reappear at any time.

If this potential timeframe doesn’t appeal to you, your wart is causing you discomfort, or you have a wart in a highly visible area, there are steps you can take to help speed the process up.

Treatments are generally designed to kill the skin cells that make up the wart. Potential solutions include salicylic acid and cryotherapy, both of which can help speed up the disappearance of your wart. However, both must be used carefully.

Salicylic acid will kill healthy skin cells just as efficiently as infected ones, so you should ensure the skin around your wart is protected before applying this treatment. Cryotherapy involves targeting the wart with liquid nitrogen and therefore should only be administered by a medical professional.

Treatment of warts


A slightly more unconventional method involves wrapping the wart in duct tape. Guidelines suggest you should do this for six days, then remove the dressing and soak the wart. Having left it overnight, re-wrap it in duct tape. This should be repeated for up to two months. However, if this doesn’t work, you will need to try a different tactic.

It’s extremely rare that you will offered the opportunity to have a wart surgically removed. This is because it’s caused by a virus that could return in future, meaning surgery isn’t necessarily a permanent solution.

It’s important to get advice from a doctor before attempting to treat warts. And, if you're unsure about a growth on your skin, it’s always best to seek clarification from a medical professional at the earliest opportunity to rule out potentially serious problems.

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