Warts are usually acquired from person-to-person contact. The virus is not highly contagious but can cause an infection by entering through a small break in the skin. In the same way, warts can be spread to other places on the body. The virus is rarely transferred by touching an object used by an infected person, but family members should refrain from sharing towels and other personal items.
- Common warts are rough thick skin-colored pink or white bumps, from 1 mm to over 10 mm in size, often on the hands, face, elbows, and knees.
- Filiform warts are long and narrow, like tufts of thread, and they are usually small at the base (1–3 mm). They often affect the face, eyelids, or nose area.
- Over-the-counter wart removers have a high percentage of salicylic acid and work by dissolving away the layer of skin infected with the virus. This treatment needs to be used daily and can sometimes be irritating if it touches unaffected skin around the wart.
- Duct tape applied daily to the affected area seems to work for unknown reasons. The tape should be very sticky and kept on for a few days. Some children may have a reaction to the adhesive on the tape.
- Over-the-counter freezing medications are available but have not been found to be very effective.
- Coupled with the above therapies, the wart should be soaked in warm water, and any loose skin should be removed every few days with a mild abrasive, like a pumice stone.
- Family members should avoid sharing personal items such as towels.
- Painful or bleeding warts.
- Warts on the face or warts interfering with daily life that do not improve with self-care.
- Diabetes – warts of the feet should be treated by a physician.
- Destruction with freezing (cryosurgery), burning (electrocautery), laser, or cantharidin, podophyllin, tretinoin, or acid application.
- Injection of chemotherapy drugs.
- Application of imiquimod, an immunotherapy agent, or other chemicals that trigger an allergic reaction to destroy the wart.