Medical information for patients

Warts and verrucas

Warts and verrucas are small thickened growths on the skin, which are caused by a virus.


Warts are small growths of the skin, caused by a virus. They have a rather rough surface, and can be unsightly. They do not usually hurt, although they may itch. Warts may affect any part of the body, but are most commonly seen on the hands.

Warts on the feet are known as verrucas. Here the pressure from the body weight causes them to be flatter, but to grow into the skin more, and can cause pain, rather like walking on a dried pea.

Sometimes people have many warts or verrucas, while others only have one or two.


It is a virus that causes warts and verrucas. It may be that they can be picked up from direct contact or in swimming pools or changing rooms, but warts and verrucas do not spread rapidly through a family, and it seems to be a question of being more susceptible at certain times in life.


Your doctor, a chiropodist, podiatrist or nurse will be able to confirm the diagnosis, and it is unlikely that any tests will be needed.


Warts will heal on their own, given long enough, but this may take years. If treatment is needed there are a number various possibilities:

Very occasionally the wart or verruca does not respond to any of these treatments, and your doctor may refer you to a specialist (dermatologist) to consider stronger treatments.

Warts on the genital areas (genital warts) need a specific type of treatment (usually a paint) and you should consult with your doctor if you have these. They can spread to sexual contacts, so unprotected sexual contact should be avoided until they have been treated.

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