Common Warts - Dr Colin Hong

Common warts are small, non-cancerous skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They appear most often on hands, fingers, and elbows and can be painful when touched. Common warts are contagious and spread through direct contact with someone who has them or through contact with a contaminated surface. They may take months to go away without treatment and usually don’t require medical attention.

However, they can be unsightly and bothersome if left untreated. Treatment options include topical medications, freezing techniques, laser therapy, and surgery. Taking steps to prevent infection is always recommended when dealing with common warts. 

History and Definition

Common warts are small, raised, rough skin growths that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are one of the most common skin conditions and typically appear on the hands, fingers, and around the nails. Warts are not harmful and are usually not painful, but they can be unsightly and cause emotional distress.

Benjamin Bell was the first to recognize warts as a separate entity from syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that was prevalent at the time. He identified that warts were caused by a viral infection and not by a sexually transmitted disease. Bell’s contributions helped lay the foundation for our modern understanding of warts and their cause.


Common warts are small, round growths that appear on the skin. They are usually gray or white in color and have a rough, bumpy texture. Common warts may also be accompanied by black dots, which are clotted blood vessels.

Symptoms of common warts include: 

  • painless bumps on the skin
  • a scaly, bumpy surface
  • itching or burning sensations
  • and visible dark spots on the wart

If you think you may have a common wart, it’s important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, common warts can become painful and spread to other parts of the body.


Common warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is highly contagious and can spread from person to person through direct contact, including sexual contact. The virus enters the body through small cuts or breaks in the skin. Once inside, it multiplies, creating wart-like bumps on different parts of the body.

These warts may be fleshy, rough or flat, and typically appear on hands and feet—though they can also occur elsewhere. It often takes several weeks or months for them to become visible after exposure to HPV. Warts are more common in people with weakened immune systems. If a person comes into contact with someone who has an active common wart, they are likely to develop one as well.


Common warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). They usually appear as rough, raised bumps on the skin. Diagnosis of common warts is usually made based on their typical appearance and symptoms. If in doubt, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon may do a biopsy or swab to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment depends on how extensive the infection is and may include topical medications, cryotherapy, laser therapy and surgical removal. Self-care measures such as washing with soap and water can also help prevent the spread of common warts.


Common warts are usually treated with a combination of topical and physical treatments. Here are some commonly used treatments:

Topical Treatments

Salicylic acid, duct tape, and cryotherapy (freezing) are the most common topical treatments for common warts. These treatments aim to remove the thick layers of skin over the wart and encourage new, healthy skin to grow in its place.

Physical Treatments

Electrosurgery and curettage are two physical treatments for common warts. Electrosurgery uses an electric current to destroy the wart, while curettage involves scraping the wart off with a scalpel or other sharp instrument.

Surgical Procedure

If other treatments fail, surgical excision may be recommended to remove the wart. This involves numbing the area around the wart and using a scalpel or scissors to remove it.

A biopsy or HPV test can be performed to confirm the diagnosis of a common wart.

After surgery, it’s normal to experience some pain, swelling, and redness in the area. You may also have some bleeding and need to keep the area clean and covered with a bandage. You should follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care and call if you have any concerns or signs of infection. The treated area may take several weeks or months to fully heal, and it’s possible for the wart to come back.

Risk Factors

Common warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are easily spread from person to person. The following factors can increase a person’s risk of developing common warts:

  • Weak immune system: People with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to common warts.


  • Age: Children and teenagers are more likely to get common warts than adults, possibly because their immune systems are still developing.


  • Skin damage: Warts are more likely to develop in areas of the skin that have been damaged, such as cuts, scrapes, and calluses.


  • Poor hygiene: Sharing personal items such as towels, razors, or nail clippers with someone who has a wart can increase your risk of getting one.


  • Moist environment: Warts are more likely to develop in moist environments, such as public pools and showers.

  • Family history: If a family member has warts, you may be more susceptible to them.

It’s important to take precautions to reduce your risk of getting common warts, such as covering cuts and keeping your skin dry and clean, avoiding contact with warts on others, and not sharing personal items that may have come into contact with warts.


Common warts are generally not serious and most people do not experience any complications. However, in some cases, common warts can lead to the following complications:

  • Pain and discomfort: Warts can become painful if they are located in areas that are frequently bumped or rubbed, such as the hands or feet.


  • Spread of the virus: Common warts are highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the body or to other people.


  • Recurrence: Common warts can recur even after they have been treated.


  • Psychological distress: In some cases, the appearance of warts can cause psychological distress, especially if they are located in visible areas such as the face.


  • Secondary infections: If a wart is scratched or injured, it can become infected and lead to a secondary infection.

It’s important to seek treatment for common warts if they are causing pain, discomfort, or psychological distress. Your doctor can help determine the best course of treatment for you and monitor for any complications.

When to See a Doctor

If you have warts, it’s important to know when to see a doctor. Common warts can usually be identified by their rough, bumpy surface. They usually occur on the hands or feet, but may also appear elsewhere on the body. If these warts are causing pain, and discomfort, or increasing in number, it is best to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Additionally, if the wart does not respond to self-care measures such as salicylic acid or cryotherapy after several weeks of use, it is time to consult a physician. Remember that early detection and intervention are key for the successful treatment of common warts!

Step-by-Step Guide to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

When it comes to treating common warts, the best course of action is for a person to consult with their doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon.


During this consultation, the physician will evaluate the affected area and make recommendations on how best to proceed with treatment.

Treatment Plan

Based on their assessment, they may suggest one of several options including topical treatments such as salicylic acid or cryotherapy (freezing). Each of these treatments can help reduce the size and number of warts present on the body. In some cases, a minor surgical procedure may be required to completely remove the wart.

Post Instructions

Once a treatment plan has been established, it’s important to follow all instructions carefully to ensure that your skin heals properly and quickly. Depending on the type and severity of the wart, treatment may take several weeks or months.

During this time, it’s important to keep the affected area clean; regularly using mild soap and warm water is recommended. Additionally, it may be helpful to use an over-the-counter antiseptic cream to reduce any pain or discomfort.


Regular follow-up visits with your doctor are also important to ensure that the warts are healing properly. By following a physician’s advice closely and taking extra steps to care for your skin, you can help reduce the duration of treatment and successfully get rid of common warts for good. 

If you have any questions or concerns about common warts treatments, speak with your doctor right away.  They can provide additional information and advice on the best course of action for you.  With their help, you can get rid of your warts and get back to feeling comfortable in your skin!


In conclusion, common warts are a highly prevalent skin disorder that can be easily treated with the right knowledge and treatments. It is important to understand how these warts develop, how they spread, and what treatments are available so individuals can limit their chances of getting infected or having a recurrence. With the proper care and preventative measures, those affected by this condition can take control of their health and enjoy long-term relief from common warts. 


Are you looking for a top plastic surgeon in Toronto? Look no further than Dr. Colin Hong! With over 35 years of experience and one of the most affordable prices for Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive surgeries in Toronto, North York and Markham, he is your perfect choice.

If you are interested in setting up an appointment with Dr. Colin Hong to treat common warts, please contact his office at (416) 222-6986 or email us at Make sure to provide your full name, email address and phone number so we can get back to you quickly. Please also ensure that you have obtained a referral from your family doctor before contacting us.

Request your consultation today and start your journey to perfect health!

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