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Warts and verrucas

Check if you have them

Warts feel firm and rough. They can appear on palms, knuckles, knees and fingers.
Warts on your feet are known as verrucas. They have tiny black dots under the hard skin and can be painful — like standing on a needle.
Plane warts
Some warts are round, flat and can be yellow (plane warts). You might have many of them.
Mosaic warts
Clusters of warts, spread over an area of skin (mosaic warts) are common on hands and feet.

Warts often go away on their own

You don’t need to do anything about warts. They’ll usually disappear within 2 years.

Warts don’t cause you any harm. They might itch or bleed but it doesn’t mean there’s a problem.

Warts on your vulva, penis or anus (genital warts) need treatment. Go to a sexual health clinic or speak to your GP for advice.

You can choose to treat warts

You can treat warts if they’re bothering you, they keep coming back or they’re painful.

Pharmacy treatments

You can buy creams, plasters and sprays from pharmacies to remove warts.

However, these treatments take time (up to 3 months), they can irritate your skin and don’t always work.

Don’t use these treatments if you have certain conditions, like diabetes, and don’t use them on your face. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

Don’t try to scrape off your warts and verrucas. They might spread.

Treatment from your GP

Some GPs can freeze warts off (cryotherapy). After treatment, the wart swells and should fall off a few weeks later. If the wart is big, it may take more than one session. This treatment isn’t available on the NHS in all areas.

If you have a wart on your face, your GP may refer you to a skin specialist.

How to stop warts spreading

  • wash your hands after touching a wart
  • if you have warts on your fingers, don’t suck them or bite your nails
  • change your socks daily if you have a verruca
  • avoid cutting warts when shaving
  • don’t share towels
  • cover warts with a plaster when swimming

Medical detail about warts

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on warts