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What Is Verruca Plana?

Verruca plana, commonly known as flat warts, are smooth, skin-colored growths that typically appear on the face, neck, or hands. Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), these benign lesions can spread or disappear over time. Effective treatments vary, from topical creams to cryotherapy. Wondering how to identify and manage flat warts? Continue with us for a visual guide and expert advice.
A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman

A verruca plana is more commonly known as a flat wart owing to its appearance. Unlike common warts, which are rough and resemble cauliflower, verruca plana are smooth to the touch. They are also a lot smaller than common warts and usually occur on the face. Flat warts are more common in children than in adults. All warts are caused by various strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Flat warts typically do not occur alone. A person, usually a child, typically has several, even up to 100 of the warts on a single area of his body. The warts are about the size of the head of a pin and may not be noticeable at first, until there is a large cluster of them.

A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.
A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.

Verruca plana can be a range of colors. Some warts are pink, while others are brown or yellow. Although the warts are commonly found on the forehead and other parts of the face, a person can get them on her hands, knees, and neck, among other places.

As flat warts are caused by HPV, they are very contagious, just as common warts and other types of warts are. The virus does well in warm and damp environments. It can spread from person to person via contact such as sharing a towel, although that is rare. A person is more likely to spread the wart to other areas of his own body. To reduce the spread of the wart, both on the body of the patient and to others, it is important not to pick at it.

In some cases, warts can go away on their own without any treatment. It can take years for warts to fade, though. As a collection of warts on the face may be particularly embarrassing, many people prefer to seek treatment.

In some cases, laser treatments may be used to remove warts on the face.
In some cases, laser treatments may be used to remove warts on the face.

A patient with verruca plana on the face should see a doctor for treatment. Over-the-counter treatments are not recommended for use on the face. Although over-the-counter treatments may be effective for flat warts on other parts of the body, it's a good idea to have a doctor properly diagnose the warts before attempting treatment. Common treatment options for flat warts include prescription topical medication such as salicylic acid, freezing the warts through a process called cryosurgery, or a laser treatment.

Removing the warts does not mean a person is cured. The virus can still live in the body, and the warts may recur. There's a greater likelihood that flat warts will recur than with other warts.

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    • A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.
      By: Gordon Lau
      A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.
    • In some cases, laser treatments may be used to remove warts on the face.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      In some cases, laser treatments may be used to remove warts on the face.
    • Treatment options for flat warts may include prescription topical medications.
      By: 3ThousandPhotoSTD
      Treatment options for flat warts may include prescription topical medications.
    • Flat warts may be spread from person to person by means of sharing towels.
      By: lightwavemedia
      Flat warts may be spread from person to person by means of sharing towels.