What to Do if You Have a Wart

Nobody wants a wart. But, honestly, treating warts shouldn’t be a big deal.

One of the most important things to know about warts is that they are caused by a virus and like any other virus, they are contagious. This means you will want to take certain steps to take care of the affected area properly and prevent the wart from spreading to other areas and to other people. Here are some tips so you know what to do if you get a wart. 

Wart Identification

Some people think that any lump or wart on your foot is probably a plantar wart. Then, any wart found elsewhere on your body might be a common wart, right? Nope, it’s not that simple, but it’s not hard either. We can help you figure out what to do with your wart once we help you identify what type of wart it is. 

Common warts

Common warts are typically found on fingers, hands, elbows, and knees but they can also sometimes appear on toes, arms, legs and even, occasionally, the face. These warts can be flesh colored or grayish-yellow with dark specks in them. 

Common warts are round or oval with a bumpy, cauliflower-like surface. They are small—typically between 1 millimeter (mm) to 1 centimeter (cm) wide or larger—and, while they often occur as one wart, common warts can arise in groups. They are not always painful; however, that usually depends on their location. 

Plantar warts

Plantar warts are recognized by their location on the bottom of your feet, sometimes on the underside of the toes. These warts can be tricky to identify because sometimes they grow inward and appear as a hard callous (hard skin) with a small hole where the wart grows into the foot. Some plantar warts grow outward as rough, skin-colored or white bumps, often in weight-bearing locations like the heel. Plantar warts can also grow in clusters and, when they do, are referred to as mosaic warts.

As you can guess, if you haven’t had one already, plantar warts can be painful, especially when standing, walking or running. Some people first notice their plantar wart because it feels like they have a small rock or pebble in their shoe.

Treatment Options

If you find yourself with a wart, there is no need to worry. There are several treatment options available to help remove your wart.

Home Remedy

Duct tape? Apple cider vinegar? There are many home remedies that individuals have reported successfully removed warts but there is no reliable scientific evidence to back this up.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

If you prefer to speed up the process, an over-the-counter treatment is the most popular way to treat common and plantar warts. Products containing salicylic acid are available in liquid, gel or bandage forms. The salicylic acid will soften and gradually peel away the wart. If used as directed, the wart should disappear in a few treatments. If you are looking to remove a wart in as few as one treatment, an over-the-counter cryotherapy treatment is your best option.

If you are unsure about using an over-the-counter treatment, it is recommended to seek advice from a medical professional.

Reasons to See a Doctor for Wart Treatment

Most common and plantar warts can be treated using over-the-counter methods. However, if you are unsure call your doctor or dermatologist (a skin specialist) first if any of the following applies:

  • You’re not sure if the lump on your skin is a wart.
  • The lump or wart appears on your face, neck or genital area.
  • The wart or area around the wart is painful, red, swollen, bleeding or oozing pus.
  • You have multiple warts or a wart that keeps coming back.
  • You have diabetes or a condition that weakens your immune system.

You also might want to see a doctor first if your wart is in an area that gets frequent use or contact, like a fingertip.

Best Practices for Treating a Wart

If you will be treating the wart on your own, you will first want to figure out what type of treatment you prefer to effectively remove your wart.  One tool that can help you identify the right wart treatment is the Compound W® Treatment Finder. This helpful tool recommends a customized wart treatment based on your answers to a few simple questions. 
No matter what at-home treatment you use for warts, you should keep the wart covered after applying the wart removal treatment. Keeping the wart covered helps it stay clean and, more importantly, helps prevent the wart virus from spreading to other parts of your body or to other people. If you used a treatment that freezes off the wart and the wart is gone after the first treatment, you may still want to place an adhesive comfort pad over the area since it will likely be tender or sore.

Many of the topical gels and liquids come with patches, like Compound W Gel + ConSeal™ or some of the Compound W products designed specifically for warts on the foot that come with a cushion or adhesive pad to relieve pain from plantar warts.

How to Prevent Warts from Spreading

Because warts are contagious, you want to take steps to avoid spreading warts to other parts of your body and other people. Some tips for preventing the spread of warts include:

  • Do not pick at, rub or scratch your wart.
  • Keep the wart covered with a protective pad made specifically for wart treatment, a bandage, or medical or athletic tape.
  • Keep warts on your feet dry, as moisture creates an easier environment for warts to spread.
  • Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in school or public showers, locker rooms, and pool areas.
  • If you use an emery board to file off loose skin on the wart, do not share the board or use it for anything else. Throw it out after your wart is gone.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after treating or touching your wart.
  • Do not touch someone else’s wart.

We can’t stress enough, like any over-the-counter or prescription medicine, you should always follow the instructions in the packaging. If you have any doubts about whether you should treat your wart yourself, call your doctor. It’s always better to be safe if you’re not sure.