How to Detect a Wart and What to Do About Them

Person with warts on their feet How to Detect a Wart and What to Do About Them

Warts are common in both men and women of any age, but do you know what to look for when you think you have one? Do you know what to do once a wart is detected? The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute share what to look for when you think you may have a wart and how they can help you treat them.

What to Know About Detecting and Treating Warts

Detecting Warts

A wart is a skin infection caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). When contracted, you will notice skin lesions or bumps on the outer layer of the skin. There can be one wart or a few that appear, and they are contagious if someone touches them or if you touch your own warts and then another part of your body, they can spread.

Warts are broken down into three categories: common warts, plantar warts, or genital warts. Common warts appear on the hands, plantar warts appear on the bottom of the feet, and genital warts appear in the genital area. Common warts appear on the hands where the skin is broken, which is typically an area where biting nails occurs. Plantar warts on the feet can be caused from walking barefoot in public areas such as public shower floors. Genital warts are sexually transmitted and can lead to more serious health issues if not taken care of. When identifying warts, look for bumps that are rough to the touch and slightly lighter or darker than the skin. Once you have confirmed you have warts, you can explore your treatment options.

Treating Warts

Depending on the severity of your warts, different treatment options will work best. It is recommended to try different treatments and see what works best for you. Other-the-counter treatments are typically attempted first. You will want a treatment with salicylic acid to help dry up the wart to where it falls off. It should be used daily and consistently to see results. If you don’t see results, you will want to try cryotherapy or laser surgery.

Cryotherapy is the process of freezing wart(s) off and is performed in a dermatologist’s office. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the wart, and as the skin thaws, the wart falls off. Multiple treatments will be needed, and it may be a bit painful during treatment, but recovery is immediate, and the treatment is often effective.

Laser surgery is also performed by a dermatologist. The beam of light vaporizes the wart growth and essentially burns the warts off. After treatment, you may experience bleeding and some pain. Recovery will take longer than cryotherapy, especially if the treatment was done on the feet. The treatment only needs to be performed once on the area and is often successful and effective.

Lastly, if you are experiencing genital warts, you will be prescribed one of two vaccines to help them diminish. Unfortunately, once your warts are treated, they can still come back, but dermatologists have other treatments to help with persistent cases.


We understand that warts can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, and the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are here to help. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois, and surrounding areas, complete this form, and we will be in touch.

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