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What is a Common Wart?

By Bill C.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A common wart is a small growth on the skin that usually appears as a flesh-colored, grainy or dome-shaped bump. Such warts typically appear on the hands and fingers but can also emerge on other parts of the body. Its name, the common wart, is a clinical definition given by the medical world because it occurs more often than other, more serious types of warts. Warts defined as common are generally harmless and often eventually fade away.

An effective way to determine if a skin growth is a common wart is to compare its appearance with photos of actual warts on medical websites or in health-care books or publications. A person unsure whether a growth is a common wart or something more serious should seek the opinion of a medical professional. Health-care providers can generally diagnose common warts almost immediately.

A common wart can spread to other parts of the body through scratches, scrapes, or other breaks in the skin. Warts can also be contracted by touching something that a person with warts has come in contact with. Since warts are caused by a virus, which can be transmitted from person to person.

Not everyone who comes in contact with a common wart virus contracts one, however. Some people are seemingly immune. Those most likely to develop warts after being exposed to the virus are children, young adults, people with defective immune systems, and recipients of organ transplants.

Although common warts sometimes require no treatment, wart sufferers often want to get rid of them because they can be unsightly and embarrassing. Medical professionals typically do not discourage self-treatment of positively identified common warts at home. Two treatments generally generally considered effective are application of over-the-counter salicylic acid and use of duct tape.

Various products containing salicylic acid in liquid form or in patches can be purchased at drug stores or pharmacy sections of retail stores. Instructions generally call for the product to be applied to the wart for a week or more. The acid usually kills the growth eventually, and the wart can often simply be peeled away after the infected area has been soaked in warm water.

Treatment with duct tape is another method that some research has concluded may work. Common instructions include covering the wart for approximately six days. After removing the duct tape, a person should soak the wart with warm water before using a pumice stone or emery board to eventually rub the wart away. This treatment may need to be repeated several times before working fully.

In more serious cases of a common wart, medical treatments are necessary. These can include freezing, cutting away or using stronger acids to burn off the warts.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Nov 07, 2013

I had warts when I was seven years old. First, I had just one and then I got two more on the same hand. My mom applied over-the-counter medication but it didn't work. I ended up getting them burned with laser at the doctor's office. It wasn't painful but the warts were black for a long time and I smelled like smoke.

I still have scars from the experience and I wish my parents had chosen a different treatment method. Laser treatment is not the best way to remove common warts.

I heard that cryotherapy is a popular treatment method now. They freeze the warts with liquid nitrogen.

By stoneMason — On Nov 07, 2013

@ZipLine-- No, that's not true. I'm not sure where that myth came from.

Common warts are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). There are hundreds of different types of this virus and a few types is commonly found on our skin. Sometimes the virus can cause common warts. I think it's more prevalent in children. It probably has to do with the immune system.

So you won't get warts from frogs. But you should wash your hands frequently and pay attention to hygiene. If you do have a hand wart, don't play with it. Touching a wart can spread the virus and cause more warts.

By ZipLine — On Nov 06, 2013

They say that touching frogs causes common warts on hands. Is this true?

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