Types of Warts

types of warts, Silver Spring dermatologist

Types of Warts- Warts are very common non-cancer skin growths, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV increases cell growth on the skin’s surface leading to raised, firm bumps. Although you often see warts on your hands and feet, they can occur anywhere on the skin. While all warts are caused by the HPV virus, different strains of this virus can lead to different types of warts. For example, HPV types  2 and 7 cause common warts, types 1, 2 and 4 cause plantar warts and types 3 and 10 often cause flat warts.

Types of warts

Common Warts

These growths are commonly found on the fingers, on the back of the hand, and on the feet. They may feel rough and grainy, and sometimes appear grayer than the surrounding skin. Small wounds on the fingers or hands make these areas more likely to get warts.

Plantar Warts

If you feel as though you have a pebble in your shoe, you may have a plantar wart on the sole of your foot- usually on a weight-bearing area like the heel. These warts tend to grow deeper into the skin because of the pressure of walking and standing. They look like a small hole surrounded by rough, hardened skin. Mosaic warts are plantar warts that appear in thick clusters. These can easily be mistaken for calluses. Because plantar warts grow deep into the skin, they are more difficult to treat, and usually require multiple treatment sessions.

Flat Warts

Flat warts are smaller and smoother than common and plantar warts and usually grow in large numbers—up to 100 in some cases! Despite its name, flat warts are actually slightly elevated. They have a smooth appearance and can be pink, brownish, or slightly yellow. Shaving can make these warts spread more quickly.

Filiform Warts

These spike-shaped warts resemble a tiny aloe plant. They grow very fast and are often on the face -around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Warts may also appear around the chin and neck. These are small and look like a tiny flap or tag of the skin and often are the same color as your skin. As with all warts, you should not touch or pick them so that they don’t spread.

Genital Warts

Genital warts are considered a form of sexually transmitted infection (STI), but they generally don’t cause additional symptoms, except for pain and/or itchiness. However, the HPV strain that causes genital warts may also cause cancer. As such, it is recommended to visit a doctor immediately if you think you have genital warts.

Genital warts may occur in the vagina, vulva, cervix, urethra, penis, scrotum, and anus. They may also develop on the lips and inside the mouth, and this subtype is called mucosal warts.


As mentioned above, the human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause warts. The virus infects the skin when there is a small cut or other skin damage.

Warts spread faster on moist skin. Warts are also passed on from person to person when there is direct contact with the skin or by touching an object infected by the said virus, such as using a towel that’s been used by a person with a wart. Genital warts, in particular, may be passed on through sexual contact – either oral, vaginal, or anal.

Children, teenagers, people who frequently bite their nails or pull hangnails, and those who have a weakened immune system are the ones most at risk of developing warts.


To prevent developing and spreading warts, these are the practices recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):

  • Get an HPV vaccination.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Moisturize your skin so that it won’t dry out and crack.
  • Clean and cover any cuts and scrapes on the skin.
  • Avoid biting your nails or nail skin.
  • Treat excessive sweating.
  • During sex, use barrier birth control methods.
  • Refrain from touching, scratching, or picking your warts so as not to spread them.
  • Do not shave over a wart.
  • Refrain from touching the warts of other people.
  • Keep the feet with warts dry to prevent spreading.
  • Make sure that each member of the household has their own personal items such as towels, socks, razors, etc.
  • Wear slippers or shoes in public changing areas, pools, and showers

Home remedies

Typically, warts would go away on their own. However, they look embarrassing and may cause discomfort or pain. As such, following here are the remedies you may do at home to remove warts.

Salicylic acid

You may start treating warts by applying salicylic acid, which may be in the form of a gel, liquid, or plaster/pad. Whichever form you choose, you may buy them even without a prescription.

Before using the salicylic acid, make sure to soak your wart in warm water. Then, apply your chosen salicylic acid product on your wart every day. Salicylic acid may be painful on the skin, although it is rare. If the wart or the surrounding skin begin to sore, stop your treatment for a while.

Generally, it would take some weeks for this kind of home remedy to take effect.

Freezing treatments

There are over-the-counter treatments (composed of dimethyl ether and propane) that you may spray onto your wart. Such treatments are formulated to kill your warts. By changing the tape covering the wart every few days, you can peel away some layers of the wart. You may need to do this several times for it to work. However, there is still no concrete study proving the effectiveness of duct tape in treating warts.

When to see a doctor?

Although warts are generally harmless, it is best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist if:

  • you have a wart on the face or genitals
  • there is a foreign growth on the skin that is not a wart
  • you have multiple warts
  • the warts are itchy, burning, bleeding, or painful
  • you are diabetic
  • you have a weakened or compromised immune system.


With all warts, early treatment is best. At this stage the warts are smaller, thinner and fewer in number.For more information, call 301-679-5772 or book an appointment online to schedule a consultation. Dr. Ife Rodney  is a board certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist and is an expert in wart, cyst and mole removal for all skin types. Eternal Dermatology is located in Howard county MD, and serves Columbia MD, Clarksville, Ellicott City, Laurel, Bowie, Silver Spring and surrounding areas.


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