What causes warts?

Posted by Isabelle Eskew on 7/1/24 9:57 AM

Maulik Dhandha MD-2Tired of those pesky warts?

Dr. Maulik Dhandha, dermatologist with Dignity Health Woodland Clinic, is here to share the lowdown on wart treatment and how to prevent them from popping up in the first place.


What causes warts?

“Warts are typically flesh-colored, rough feeling growths on the skin, and are due to an infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). They are highly contagious and spread by direct touch, small cuts in skin or touching a surface that was in contact with a wart.” — Dr. Dhandha

What types of warts are there?

  • Common warts: Feel like rough bumps that have black dots and most commonly found on the hands, fingers and around the nails
  • Flat warts: Smooth in texture, can occur anywhere including on the face. Usually multiple in number
  • Foot warts: Usually on the plantar surface of the feet, in clusters, can be painful with overlying black dots
  • Filiform warts: Usually long and hanging from a stalk like growth, generally on the face
  • Genital warts: Usually sexually transmitted and can be precursors to skin cancer

How are warts treated?

“Because warts are resistant, it often takes multiple rounds of treatment to get rid of them.” — Dr. Dhandha

Common treatments include:

  • Cantharidin: applying an antigen over the wart and then covering it with a band-aid. It then blisters and washes away
  • Cryotherapy: freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen
  • Immunotherapy: inject the site with a candida antigen to invoke an immune system response and fight against the wart
  • Electrosurgery and curettage: a skin procedure that involve scraping or burning skin tissue

What are some simple tips to keep them away?

  • Not touching or picking at warts
  • Not using the same nail tools (emery board, pumice stone or nail clipper) on your warts as you use on healthy skin and nails 
  • Not biting fingernails
  • Avoiding shared hot tubs, showers and warm baths
  • Don’t share washcloths or towels
  • Avoiding brushing, clipping or shaving areas that have warts
  • Using hand moisturizer daily
  • Get an HPV vaccination for prevention of high risk genital warts


2) Dermatology. 4th Edition. Bolognia et al

If you have an concerns about a wart or the appearance of a skin spot or mole, you can schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with your primary care physician. Our “Find a Doctor” tool can help you find a Dignity Health Medical Group provider near you.

Meet Dr. Dhandha


Topics: Woodland Clinic, Cancer, Dermatology, Dignity Health Woodland Clinic

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