Verruca Vulgaris (Common Warts)

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Very Common
More than 3 million US cases per year

  • Self-diagnosable
  • Symptoms: slightly raised bumps with rough surface, smaller blisters, black dots
  • Color: Typically lighter or darker than surrounding skin
  • Location: On the hands, feet and knees
  • Treatment: Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, topical agents, intralesional injections, systemic agents, cryotherapy, laser, electrodessication and surgical excision

Verruca vulgaris (common warts) is a benign growth caused by viral infection. Warts are very common among children of school age, but anyone can be infected. They are contagious through skin contact and by damp towels or wet floors in showers and changing rooms

The infection is localized and is with one of the many types of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV-2 and HPV-4 are the most common type to cause verruca vulgaris; other subtypes that may cause the warts include HPV-1, HPV-3, HPV-27 and HPV-57.

Symptoms of Verruca Vulgaris (Common Warts)

Verruca vulgaris has a rough surface and usually appears on the hands or feet. They can occur on the back of fingers or toes and on the knees. The warts are small blisters that appear usually on the hands or under the feet (so called verrucas). You may see them in groups or a linear patter.

They are often slightly raised, have hard edges and softer centers. They may be either lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. There may be small black dots in the warts as well. Warts on the hands are usually more visible and larger in size. They may look like tiny cauliflowers.

Warts near the genital area are called condyloma (genital warts).

What can I do?

For warts under the sole of the foot, which often become hard because of the pressure, there are also relieving patches available in pharmacies.

To speed up the healing process, you can soften the wart in water and then file it down as much as possible without bleeding. Then, you may put on topical cream. You should treat the wart as such everyday for at least 5 to 10 sessions.

You can also get a spray at the pharmacy to freeze the wart. However, you should not use the spray on children under the age of four, if you have diabetes or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Should I seek medical care?

Medical care is generally recommended if you have extensive, spreading or symptomatic warts. The same applies if you have had the warts for more than 2 years.

Treatment for Verruca Vulgaris (Common Warts)

It is difficult to avoid the wart virus. Warts are not dangerous in any way, and they usually disappear after a few months or years.

If you still wish to have the warts removed, there are a number of remedies and medications to buy, such as salicylic acid. Ask a pharmacist if you are unsure about which medical agent to choose.

If you seek medical care, liquid nitrogen cryotherapy is the most common treatment for common warts. Other treatment methods include topical agents, intralesional injections, systemic agents, cryotherapy, laser, electrodessication and surgical excision.


Dermpath Diagnostics. Diagnostic Reference Sheets – Verruca Vulgaris. Available at:

MedicineNet, Inc. Viral Skin Diseases – Picture of Verruca Vulgaris. Available at:

University of San Francisco. Dermatology Glossary – Verruca Vulgaris (Verrucae Vulgaris). Available at:

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