What Causes Warts?

What Causes Warts?

The common human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the top layers of the skin, causing warts to grow. They are contagious and passed by skin-to-skin contact, or by sharing items like towels. Warts may heal on their own in two to three years, or more quickly in children, but can recur and spread, so it’s important to have them treated promptly to avoid the formation of more.

Treatments for Warts

Your dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology can offer many options to treat warts. Together you’ll decide which is best for you.

Warts are transmitted by contact, but can take up to six months to appear after exposure. Since they’re contagious, it is important to have them treated by your ADCS dermatologist or one of our other providers specializing in wart removal.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Over-the-counter remedies are available which contain salicylic acid. The medication comes in a liquid, gel, pad, or ointment and softens abnormal skin cells, eventually dissolving them over many weeks.


Cantharidin is used by your dermatologist to “paint” the wart, which causes a blister to form under it. About a week later the dermatologist can remove the dead wart. A second treatment may be needed for complete removal.

Liquid Nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen is an option your healthcare provider can use to freeze the wart. This is called cryotherapy and may require two to four treatments to properly treat the wart.

Electrosurgery and Curettage

Electrosurgery and curettage involve burning the wart and scraping off the remainder with a sharp tool. The procedure might be reversed, with the scraping done first, then the electrosurgery.


Excision is the surgical removal of the wart.

Prescription Topical Medications

Prescription topical medications may be suggested for warts that are not responding to other treatments.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is another treatment option for hard-to-treat warts and involves using the laser to burn the wart away.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are used for multiple warts in one area and require the at-home application of a prescription medication which will cause the area to peel.


Immunotherapy can take a few forms, such as applied medicine or injections, but it means using the patient’s own immune system to fight the warts.

Oral Retinoid Medications

Oral retinoid medications are rarely prescribed, but can be effective in treating stubborn warts.

Clinical Trial

Advanced Dermatology’s Ameriderm Research division conducts clinical trials on treatment for common warts.


Clinical Trial
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