What causes a wart?    

Warts are caused by a viral infection in the skin.  The virus itself is not harmful.

What do they look like?     

They are often shaped like a cauliflower and have a rough, uneven surface.

How do warts occur / spread?

 People with scratches or cuts in their skin are more likely to develop a wart.   Children who scratch, bite or pick warts can cause them to bleed or break up, which can make them spread to other parts of the body.  Sometimes warts can be picked up from a floor, especially in swimming pools.

What’s the difference between a wart and a verruca?   

Verrucae are simply a type of wart that occurs on the sole of the foot.   They look slightly different to the cauliflower-type and are flat, with a black dot in the centre, covered by thick, hard skin.

How do I prevent of warts and verrucae?

  • Avoid direct contact with other warts
  • Do not share clothing, towels, socks or shoes with an infected person
  • Do not scratch or pick a wart
  • Wear flip-flops in showers or on wet floors

How are warts / verrucae treated?    

Most warts get better on their own within one to two years; in children they may get better more quickly, many of them within 6 months.

What is the treatment?

The most commonly used treatments are:

  • Salicylic acid (such as Salactol)
  • Duct tape
  • Freezing treatment (also known as cryotherapy)

Salicylic acid

There are various lotions, paints and special plasters that contain salicylic acid and these are available over the counter at your local pharmacist.

Read the instructions in the packet on how to use the brand you buy or are prescribed, or ask your pharmacist for advice. Usually the advice is to:

  • Soak the wart in water for 5-10 minutes then rub off the dead skin from the top of the wart with an emery file or a pumice stone
  • Apply the wart paint over the top of the wart and Vaseline just around the outside of the wart
  • The Vaseline acts as a “shield” to protect the normal skin from contact with the wart paint
  • Cover the wart with a plaster so that it goes soggy underneath
  • Repeat this every day for up to 3 months.  Persevere – if you give up too soon, it will not work!

Please note

Don’t use wart paints for facial warts or for genital warts.  Genital warts need different treatment for which you should see your GP

Duct Tape

Some people find applying simple duct tape over warts can be effective for getting rid of them and it’s painless and very cheap!

  • Simply cover the wart with a small piece of duct tape
  • Each week, remove the tape, soak the wart in warm water, remove the dead skin with a pumice stone, dry, then re-apply more tape
  • Continue this every week for up to 2 months

Freezing Treatment (Cryotherapy)

Non-urgent advice:

Freezing therapy is no longer available at the surgery, but is available privately from some pharmacies