Warts are small raised bumps on your skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts have plagued humans for thousands of years and though not dangerous, they are ugly, potentially embarrassing, and contagious. They can also be painful. Usually appearing on the hands or feet, warts are hard and slightly raised and may sit in clusters. Occasionally, small, clotted blood vessels are seen inside the wart that looks like small black dots.


Warts are caused by a virus type called HPV (human papillomavirus). There are more than a hundred different types of HPV, but only a few cause warts on the hands and feet. Other types of HPV virus cause, for example, genital or filiform warts. The virus can be spread directly through contact between people or indirectly by towels or floors in swimming pools and changing rooms. If you have warts on your hands, you also can infect other parts of the body by direct contact. Children and adolescents are more often affected by warts than adults. People with impaired immune systems, either due to diseases such as HIV or because of immunosuppressive therapy, have a greater risk of suffering from warts.

Prevention and Protection

There are ways to prevent warts and keep them from spreading to other parts of your body if you already have one. Follow these simple guidelines:


  • Wash your hands regularly, especially if you’ve been in contact with someone with warts.
  • Don’t pick at your warts.
  • Cover warts with a bandage.
  • Keep your hands and feet dry.
  • Wear flip-flops in changing rooms or public swimming pools.


Most warts disappear by themselves, usually within 1-2 years and require no treatment. Warts can be treated in several different ways and there are some non-prescription medications available at pharmacies. Salicylic acid can be used to treat warts in a form of adhesive pads or bottled concentrated solution. Other alternatives include prescription medications, cryotherapy that freezes the wart with liquid nitrogen or laser treatment.

When to consult a doctor

Warts can be bothersome and stigmatizing. You also run the risk of infecting others through direct contact. Often warts disappear by themselves – but this can sometimes take years. There are some non-prescription drugs for warts at pharmacies. If prescription creams and ointments for warts have not been effective, you should check with a doctor to ensure that it is not some other skin disease.


If you have many warts, which do not heal, in combination with immune system problems, it is also advisable to consult a doctor.

How APPOTEK can help

If you have tried prescription drugs for warts with no effect, you may be suffering from another, similar skin disease. APPOTEK can help you with advice, prescriptions and referral to other specialists if needed.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.