Warts

We treat and remove these from your skin without harming surrounding tissue

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes warts—harmless small bumps or rough growths on your skin that do not affect your overall health.

You can’t catch the virus easily, but when it comes in contact with an opening in the skin, it can take hold, begin to multiply and require a long time to eliminate.

IU Health dermatologists have extensive experience treating and removing warts without harming surrounding tissue.

Many different types of this virus exist, and some affect only particular parts of the body. Warts grow because the body’s immune system takes a long time—often years—to recognize the HPV infection. Eventually the immune system does become sensitized (recognizes the virus) and attacks the strain of the virus that caused the wart. When this happens the wart gradually goes away.

Other warts caused by different strains of HPV may remain, however, and new warts can appear. Over time, the same sensitization process eventually causes these warts to disappear as well.

Warts can also spread through sexual contact. For example, genital warts usually appear on and around the genitals and anus.

If a wart grows in a sensitive area, you can access an IU Health specialist who knows how to treat it effectively without damaging surrounding tissue. Your dermatologist will help you understand your treatment options and help you make the best decision.

Understanding Warts

Many different types of this virus exist, and some affect only particular parts of the body. Warts grow because the body’s immune system takes a long time—often years—to recognize the HPV infection. Eventually the immune system does become sensitized (recognizes the virus) and attacks the strain of the virus that caused the wart. When this happens the wart gradually goes away.

Other warts caused by different strains of HPV may remain, however, and new warts can appear. Over time, the same sensitization process eventually causes these warts to disappear as well.

Warts can also spread through sexual contact. For example, genital warts usually appear on and around the genitals and anus.

If a wart grows in a sensitive area, you can access an IU Health specialist who knows how to treat it effectively without damaging surrounding tissue. Your dermatologist will help you understand your treatment options and help you make the best decision.

Wart Removal

Sometimes warts cause embarrassment or get bumped or injured. You may want warts removed if they appear in a highly visible area on your skin.

Your IU Health dermatologist may not always recommend this approach. Warts often fade on their own as the body’s immune system becomes sensitive to the particular strain (exact type) of human papilloma virus (HPV) causing them.

If you choose to have a wart removed, HPV may remain in your skin even after removal, so the wart may return. Before getting a wart removed, consider that removal may leave a permanent scar. Sometimes you can let the infection run its course and it will fade away on its own.

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Creams

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription creams can destroy warts over time. Highly skilled IU Health dermatologists also have procedures to remove warts in an office visit including:

  • Excision. This minor surgical procedure removes the wart.
  • Cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen painted on the wart freezes and destroys it.
  • Electrosurgery. Dermatologists use an electric probe to apply high heat directly to the wart, destroying it.
  • Chemical treatment. Certain chemicals painted on the wart cause blistering that destroys it.
  • Immunotherapy. Dermatologists can inject the wart with a substance that causes the immune system to respond to the virus.

Genital Warts

Unlike most warts, which do not lead to other health problems, genital warts, found in sensitive areas (the genitals, anus and sometimes the mouth and throat) can cause cervical or anal cancer. Careful treatment reduces or eliminates the appearance of genital warts, but cannot cure the underlying HPV infection.

You can receive a vaccine for some strains of HPV that cause cancers, such as cervical, anal and oral cancer, and warts. This vaccine prevents infection by these strains and has reduced the incidence of HPV-related cancers and genital warts.

What are Treatment Options for Warts?

Wart Removal

Sometimes warts cause embarrassment or get bumped or injured. You may want warts removed if they appear in a highly visible area on your skin.

Your IU Health dermatologist may not always recommend this approach. Warts often fade on their own as the body’s immune system becomes sensitive to the particular strain (exact type) of human papilloma virus (HPV) causing them.

If you choose to have a wart removed, HPV may remain in your skin even after removal, so the wart may return. Before getting a wart removed, consider that removal may leave a permanent scar. Sometimes you can let the infection run its course and it will fade away on its own.

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Creams

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription creams can destroy warts over time. Highly skilled IU Health dermatologists also have procedures to remove warts in an office visit including:

  • Excision. This minor surgical procedure removes the wart.
  • Cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen painted on the wart freezes and destroys it.
  • Electrosurgery. Dermatologists use an electric probe to apply high heat directly to the wart, destroying it.
  • Chemical treatment. Certain chemicals painted on the wart cause blistering that destroys it.
  • Immunotherapy. Dermatologists can inject the wart with a substance that causes the immune system to respond to the virus.

Genital Warts

Unlike most warts, which do not lead to other health problems, genital warts, found in sensitive areas (the genitals, anus and sometimes the mouth and throat) can cause cervical or anal cancer. Careful treatment reduces or eliminates the appearance of genital warts, but cannot cure the underlying HPV infection.

You can receive a vaccine for some strains of HPV that cause cancers, such as cervical, anal and oral cancer, and warts. This vaccine prevents infection by these strains and has reduced the incidence of HPV-related cancers and genital warts.

Patient Stories for Warts

PubMed Health

This website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine provides concise, detailed information about warts and wart treatments.

MedlinePlus

This U.S. government website features basic information about warts with extensive links to more information and resources.

Resources

PubMed Health

This website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine provides concise, detailed information about warts and wart treatments.

MedlinePlus

This U.S. government website features basic information about warts with extensive links to more information and resources.