Common Lumps & Bumps – Warts


What are they?

Warts, otherwise known as verrucae, are the result of the skin’s epidermal cells infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This results in overgrowth of this cell layer and subsequent keratinization, leading to the distinctive appearance of the wart.

Warts can be flat, raised or pedunculated. They generally are skin colored but may appear brown or tan. Warts can be found on any part of the body. When they are in the groin region, they are termed as condylomata acuminata.

Why do I get them?

Warts are caused by the infection of skin cells by HPV. They can be spread by direct skin to skin contact, either from an infected person or from one part of the body to another. Minor trauma with small breaks in the epidermal layers usually facilitates spread.

Are they dangerous?

Most warts are self-limiting, benign lesions. They may persist for up to 2 years before regression. Generally speaking, warts are not dangerous. However genital lesions caused by HPV strains 16 and 18 are a known risk factor for cervical cancer.

What should I do?

Common warts on the rest of the body may be safely left alone, or, more commonly, removed for cosmetic reasons or for relief of physical symptoms such as itch or discomfort.

Genital lesions should always be removed. In addition, it is advisable for patients with genital warts to get screened for other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. It is also advisable to abstain from sexual activities while having genital warts

How do I remove them?

Warts can be removed in a variety of ways. Topical applications containing imiquinod or salicylic acid help lyse the  keratinized buildup and clear the infected skin cells. These may be obtained at a pharmacy or doctor’s clinic. This method of removal does take a fair bit of time and it may take a few months to see satisfactory results.

Warts, particularly genital lesions are quite amenable to cryotherapy. This is an outpatient procedure involving the application of a freezing agent onto the lesion in order to kill the cells infected with the HPV. Occasionally the surface layer of the wart may need to be curetted down first. Depending on the size and configuration of the lesion, this may be done in 2-6 sessions with each session 1-2 weeks apart.

On occasion, it may be necessary to completely excise a lesion. This may be done by a minor surgery or by electrocautery. These procedures may be done in the outpatient setting with minimum preparation. Depending on the site of the lesion, some local anaesthesia may need to be used. Complete removal of the lesions may be achieved in 1-2 sessions.


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Related Articles:

Genital  Warts (Human Papilloma Virus)

Perianal Warts

Should I take a HPV vaccine?

HPV Vaccines for Men

Gardasil HPV Vaccine – Go get it!!!


  1. Dear Dr.,

    I had a case of anal warts in the past and was given imiquimod for treatment (I was on it for about five months). In my last checkup (2 months ago), I was told that the lesions had greatly diminished. However, I can still feel slight bumps on the area where the lesions were.

    I’m just curious as to what to expect when the lesions are healed over, are we to expect a smooth surface of the skin?



    • Yes completely smooth. Having some residual lumps may not mean that the warts are still present or active. You should see your doctor for a follow up.

  2. Hello dr …
    I am stanley from india i got an std one and a half years ago … But i couldnot to find out the disease with what i infected … symptoms are as follows 1 ) blisters on penis head 2) Sore throat 3)Non hollow or non fluid filled bumps on base of the tongue 4) Acid reflux 5)Swollen lymph nodes throughout the body 6) Odores penis head and mouth (All these are persistent since infection)….
    Some doctors prescribed acyclovir and antibiotics but no use at all …
    Tests are as follows 1)HIV Elisa and Tridot – Neg 2)Hbv ag – neg 3)Hcv ag -Neg 4) HSV 1& 2 IGm & IGg ab – Neg …
    I have a GREAT FEAR of CANCER …And is there any chance of it being HPV ..If not what ….? How to know ….? If tests or required what tests are to be taken ….?
    Here all are worthless doctors ….
    And I am helpless ….
    Please help me doctor ….

  3. Warts or not?

    Is it possible to have just a single genital wart? Are all warts that form around the genital area genital warts type? I could feel a wart-like lesion in the skin 1cm from my anus, and when I looked in the mirror, from what I see it looks like a raised skin. I am not sure if it is a wart but if it is, it looks like the same I have on my face. Would your recommend it be removed?

    • Yes it is possible to have a single genital wart. I cannot recommend medical treatments over the internet. You are welcome to see us for medical advice.

  4. regret to max

    hi doc tan, what is the diff of Common Lumps and Bumps – Warts
    and Genital Warts (Human Papilloma Virus). how do i know which i actually got into ?

    • Hi Regret,

      Both address talk about the same thing, viral warts which is caused by different strains of the Human Papilloma Virus. The genital warts article focuses more on wart infections around the genitals while Common Lumps and Bumps addresses warts that cane be found on the body as a whole.

  5. Worried ad

    Also the liquid that I was given kind of burns the skin. I’m not sure how to best treat the warts.

    • Both salicylic acid and imiquoid lotion can be irritating to the skin. You should follow your doctor’s instructions and apply the solution accordingly. Sometime the frequency or duration of application may have to be shortened due to skin sensitivity.

      Warts can also be treated by cryotherapy (freezing the warts) or surgical removal. This may have to be done over a period of seesion in combination with the topical applications to get a satisfactory result. Please do speak to your doctor for more advice or feel free to drop by for a consultation.

  6. Worried ad

    This also sounds silly but can a man do an anal Pap smear just to check if the hpv virus that are high risks are there. I ask because I know that there is currently no hpv test for men.

  7. Worried ad

    Hi, can I impregnate my wife without the risk of infecting her with genital warts if I had treated my warts?

    • Hi Worried,
      Even with the removal/treatment of the warts, there is a chance that the virus may still be present in an inactive state in the skin cells. You may still risk transmitting it onto your wife.

      If you are keen to have children and want to reduce the chance of infecting your wife, you may wish to get her vaccinated against HPV. The quadrivalent vaccine covers against both the high risk strains responsibly for cervical cancer and the most common strains of genital warts. Condoms are also effective in minimizing transmission but not a good choice in your circumstance.

      • Worried ad

        Thanks dr. Just one question. If my wife is vaccinated, can we still have intimate acts like oral sex? Thanks

        • Hi Worried,

          The clearance of your lesions combined with the vaccination of your wife would mean she has a greatly reduced chance of developing HPV infections from you. However there is still a small possibility.

          My advice would be to carry on as normal and advise your wife to undergo her Pap smears as advised (usually 3 yearly for well women).


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