Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that most people have at some point in their life. They usually go away on their own but may take months or even years.
Check if you have a wart or verruca
Warts do not cause you any harm, but some people find them itchy, painful or embarrassing. Verrucas are more likely to be painful – like standing on a needle.
You can treat warts if they bother you, keep coming back or are painful.
A pharmacist can help with warts and verrucas
You can buy creams, plasters and sprays from pharmacies to treat warts and verrucas.
These treatments can take up to 3 months to complete, may irritate your skin and do not always work. You should not use these treatments on your face.
Your pharmacist can give you advice about the best treatment for you.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you're worried about a growth on your skin
- you have a wart or verruca that keeps coming back
- you have a very large or painful wart or verruca
- a wart bleeds or changes in how it looks
- you have a wart on your face or genitals
Genital warts can be treated at a sexual health or GUM clinic.
Treatment from a GP
A GP may be able to freeze a wart or verruca so it falls off a few weeks later. Sometimes it takes a few sessions.
Check with the GP if the NHS pays for this treatment in your area.
If treatment has not worked or you have a wart on your face, the GP might refer you to a skin specialist. Other treatments include minor surgery and treatment with laser or light.
How to stop warts and verrucas spreading
Warts and verrucas are caused by a virus. They can be spread to other people from contaminated surfaces or through close skin contact. You're more likely to spread a wart or verruca if your skin is wet or damaged.
It can take months for a wart or verruca to appear after contact with the virus.
wash your hands after touching a wart or verruca
change your socks daily if you have a verruca
cover warts and verrucas with a plaster when swimming
take care not to cut a wart when shaving
do not share towels, flannels, socks or shoes if you have a wart or verruca
do not bite your nails or suck fingers with warts on
do not walk barefoot in public places if you have a verruca
do not scratch or pick a wart
Page last reviewed: 14 October 2020
Next review due: 14 October 2023