What Different Types of Warts Look Like

Warts are benign (noncancerous) fleshy growths on the skin caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear on any part of the body and are most common in children and young adults. Most warts, with the exception of certain ones that develop on the bottom of the feet, are painless.

However, all warts are highly contagious. They can easily spread from one part of the body to another and from one person to another, even through casual contact such as a handshake. They often go away on their own, but can be treated with topical medications or removed with noninvasive procedures.

Warts are easy to identify just by looking at them. Although they're benign, in very rare cases warts have been known to develop into a very slow-growing cancer called verrucous carcinoma. If you have a wart that bothers you or doesn't go away, have your doctor take a look at it.

Common Wart

An adult holds the hand of a child with a macro wart

tomczykbartek / Getty Images

Common warts are raised, with rough, pebble-textured surfaces. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the backs of the hands and on fingers near the nails, often in areas where the skin has been broken. Sometimes common warts are called "seed" warts because they are sprinkled with black dots that look like seeds.These actually are tiny blood clots.

Flat Wart

Smaller and smoother than other warts, despite their name flat warts are slightly raised. They're flesh-toned or brownish-yellow in color and appear in clusters of a few dozen to a hundred. Women tend to get flat warts on their legs, men in the beard area, and children on the face. Although they aren't painful, flat warts can be difficult to treat.

Plantar Wart

verruca on the finger wart freeze concept

Roman Didkivskyi / Getty Images 

These warts get their name because they appear on the soles of the feet. They have a rough texture that causes them to resemble callouses or corns rather than warts. Of all warts, plantar warts are the one type that can be painful: They're often tender and can cause discomfort when standing or walking. Multiple plantar warts that grow in clusters are called mosaic warts and can be difficult to treat.

This type of wart also can develop on the palms of the hands, in which case they're called palmar warts.

Genital Wart on the Vagina

Genital warts in women most commonly develop on the labia and near the opening of the vagina. Pink, soft, and slightly raised, genital warts can vary in size and develop as clusters. Symptoms of genital warts in women may include burning, itching, or tenderness around the vagina. They are spread by sexual contact.

Genital warts, also known as Condylomata acuminata, are among the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI), affecting more than 500,000 people each year in the United States. It's important to note that genital warts are transmitted only through sexual contact; they're not caused by the same strain of HPV that cause common warts.

Genital Wart on the Penis

Genital warts in men develop most often on the tip of the shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus.They tend to be softer than other warts and resemble skin tags. Genital warts can also develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sexual contact with an infected person. Symptoms of genital warts in men include itching or discomfort.

Filiform Wart

removing skin wart

helovi / Getty Images 

Filiform warts are unusual-looking—long, narrow columns of flesh that protrude from the skin. They most often appear on the face, especially around the eyes, nose, and lips, and do not appear in clusters. Despite their appearance, filiform warts are harmless and usually disappear without treatment.

Periungual Wart

Periungual warts develop around fingernails and toenails, and are accompanied by peeling and roughening of the surface. They can affect the shape of a fingernail by pushing it up or causing partial detachment. When this happens, they can cause pain and disrupt normal nail growth.

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  1. TeensHealth. Warts. Updated February 2019.

  2. Vlahovic TC, Khan MT. The Human Papillomavirus and Its Role in Plantar Warts: A Comprehensive Review of Diagnosis and Management. Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 2016;33(3):337-53. doi:10.1016/j.cpm.2016.02.003

  3. Yanofsky VR, Patel RV, Goldenberg G. Genital warts: a comprehensive reviewJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(6):25–36.

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Warts in Children.

  5. Patidar S. Combination treatment of periungual wartsJ Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2008;1(1):23–24. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.41154

Additional Reading
  • Al Aboud AM, Nigam PK. Wart (Plantar, Verruca Vulgaris, Verrucae). StatPearls. Sept 27, 2019.

  • Yanofsky VR, Patel RV, Goldenberg G. Genital warts: a comprehensive review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012 Jun;5(6):25-36.