HomeHealth articlesflat wartsWhat Are Flat Warts?

Flat Warts - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Prevention

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Flat warts are small, smooth bumps on the skin. They are flatter and smaller than other warts and appear in clusters on the face or hands.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Filza Hafeez

Published At March 16, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 19, 2024


Flat warts are noncancerous (benign) bumps on the skin that are smooth and small. They are flatter and smaller than other warts, roughly the size of a pinhead. They can be yellowish-brown, pink, or the color of skin. Flat warts typically appear in clusters. These flat warts are most commonly found on the face and the hands. They can also spread through shaving. A flat wart usually does not cause pain, but it can be difficult to treat.

Whom Do Flat Warts Affect?

Flat warts are also known as juvenile warts, as they are observed mostly in children and teenagers than in adults.

What Do Flat Warts Look Like?

Flat warts are smaller than other types of warts and, unlike other types, have a smooth top. They are only slightly raised and are sometimes barely visible. Flat warts can be oval or round in shape and range in size from 1 to 3 millimeters. The color ranges from yellowish brown to pinkish. They can form clusters of 20 to 200 warts. Flat warts frequently appear near a scratch or break in the skin. Men may get them by shaving their beards, while women may get them on their legs.

What Causes Flat Warts?

Flat warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and there are more than 100 types of HPV. Flat warts are caused by HPV types 3, 10, 28, and 49. These HPV strains are not cancerous (benign). The same strain of HPV responsible for genital warts does not cause them. HPV can survive in warm, moist environments. When the virus infects the body, it grows and thrives on warm and moist areas of the skin. The virus causes the top layer of the skin to thicken.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Warts?

The risk factors for developing warts are:

  • Touching an object that has been exposed to HPV.

  • Open cuts and scrapes.

  • Poor personal hygiene.

  • Having a compromised immune system.

Are Flat Warts Contagious?

HPV, the virus that causes flat warts, is contagious. Although it is not highly contagious, it can spread through skin-to-skin contact. HPV can enter the body through a small skin break, cut, or scratch. Flat warts can also spread from one part of the body to another. HPV can be contracted by touching contaminated objects or surfaces in rare cases.

There are several things one can do to avoid getting warts:

  • Clothing, towels, and other personal items should not be shared with others.

  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have warts.

  • In public locker rooms, wear shower shoes or flip-flops.

How Are Flat Warts Diagnosed?

If one notices any lumps or bumps on the skin, schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider. They may be able to identify flat warts based on their appearance. However, they may occasionally request a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. They may refer to a dermatologist for treatment.

How to Get Rid of Flat Warts?

Flat warts rarely require treatment. They usually go away independently, but it could take months or years. The time it takes for them to disappear is determined by several factors, including the overall health and the location of warts on the body. According to reports, up to 78 percent of flat warts disappear within two years.

One can use over-the-counter (OTC) wart removers to treat flat warts immediately. These medications contain salicylic acid and work by dissolving the layer of skin infected by the HPV virus. However, scientific evidence does not support their efficacy, and they can irritate the skin. If the flat warts are painful, spreading, or affecting the quality of life. Flat wart removal options can be discussed with the provider. Remember that removal methods may not eliminate warts. They can sometimes cause warts to spread or reappear. Treatment can also result in pain and scarring.

To avoid scarring, the provider may recommend a gentle treatment to remove flat warts on the face or hands. In addition, they can prescribe a topical cream that will irritate the skin, allowing you to peel warts away. Retinoic acid or benzoyl peroxide may be present in these creams. Other options for wart removal include:

  • Burning: To remove warts, the healthcare provider will use an electric needle (electrocautery) or a laser.

  • Cantharidin: Cantharidin will be applied to warts by the provider. Cantharidin is a chemical that causes blisters to form beneath warts, allowing them to be removed from the skin.

  • Cryotherapy: In cryotherapy the provider will use liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove warts.

  • Surgical Removal (Excision): The provider will use a scalpel to cut or scrape warts away.

How to Prevent Flat Warts?

Warts are caused by an infectious virus and spread through touch. To stop the spread of the HPV virus that causes flat warts, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid rubbing, picking, or scratching warts.

  • After touching or treating warts, wash hands thoroughly.

  • Refrain from getting hands on other people's warts.

  • Avoid sharing towels or other personal items.

  • If a child has warts, keep their toys clean and avoid playing with other children who have warts.

  • Maintain clean and dry skin.

  • In public pool areas or locker rooms, wear flip-flops or shower shoes.


Flat warts are small, flat bumps that appear mostly on the face or hands. They usually go away by themselves but can take years to disappear completely. Contact the healthcare provider if flat warts cause pain or appear infected.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Flat Warts From the Face Are Removed?

There are numerous methods available to eliminate flat warts from the face. It is advised that they speak with a dermatologist who offers a range of therapies. Warts freeze by liquid nitrogen during cryotherapy. The alternative treatment is laser therapy, which uses a powerful laser to remove warts. Additionally, warts can be treated with topical retinoids or salicylic acid creams, chemical peels, or both. Excision or electrocautery may be suggested in certain circumstances. To achieve the best results, it is essential to carefully follow the dermatologist's advice, maintain proper hygiene, and protect the skin from sun exposure.


How to Prevent the Spread of Flat Warts?

Inhibit direct contact with the affected area, as these warts are very contagious. Refrain from touching, scratching, or picking at them to prevent further transmission. There is a requirement to maintain good personal hygiene by frequently cleaning hands with soap and water. Inhibit sharing personal items like towels, razors, or clothing that may come into contact with warts. If they have flat warts, cover them with a bandage or tape to minimize contact. Strengthen the immune system through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, as a robust immune system can help prevent the spread and warts recurrence.


How Do Flat Warts Appear on Hands?

Flat warts on the hands appear as small, smooth, and flat growths on the skin. They are often slightly raised and may have a rounded or oval shape. They alter in color from flesh-colored to slightly yellowish or brownish. They are usually smaller than regular warts, measuring around 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter. Flat warts tend to occur in clusters and can be found on the back of the hands, fingers, and around the nails.They may be painless or cause mild itching or irritation.


How Flat Warts Are Removed From the Neck and Forehead?

Flat warts on the neck and forehead can be removed through various methods. One common approach is cryotherapy, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the warts, causing them to fall off over time. Another option is topical treatments containing salicylic acid, which gradually dissolve the warts. Along with this, laser therapy or electrocautery may be employed to burn off the warts. It is critical to consult a physician for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan best suited to individual needs.


How Can Flat Warts on the Face Be Removed Without Any Scars?

The other option is to consult a dermatologist who can provide professional guidance and treatment options like cryotherapy, which involves freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen. Another approach is using topical creams containing salicylic acid or other wart-dissolving ingredients, following the instructions carefully. Home remedies like apple cider vinegar or duct tape occlusion can be tried, but it is important to exercise caution and discontinue their use if any adverse reactions occur. Regular and consistent treatment should gradually eliminate the warts, promoting a scar-free outcome.


What Leads to Red Flat Warts on Legs?

Red flat warts on the lower leg are caused by an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Through minute cuts, the virus enters, leading to the development of warts. Red flat warts are a specific subtype of warts that appear as smooth, flat lesions with a reddish color. Proper hygiene and avoiding direct contact with infected individuals or surfaces can help prevent their spread.


At What Duration Will Salicylic Acid Reduce Flat Warts?

The time it takes for salicylic acid to eliminate flat warts can vary depending on factors such as the size and location of the warts, as well as individual response to the treatment. Generally, it may take several weeks to a few months of consistent application for salicylic acid to remove flat warts effectively. They are suggested to consult with a physician for personalized guidance and to discuss any concerns regarding the treatment.


What Foods Are Recommended to Remove Flat Warts?

There is no specific food that has been scientifically proven to fight flat warts directly. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can support overall immune function, which plays a role in combating viral infections. Including foods rich in vitamin C, zinc, and antioxidants like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help boost your immune system and promote skin health. They are suggested to consult a physician for the management of flat warts.


How Many Doses of Aldara Cream Are for the Management of Flat Warts?

The recommended dosage of Aldara cream for treating flat warts may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Generally, it is recommended to spread Aldara cream on warts once daily before bedtime for up to 16 weeks. Physician consultation is required for personalized advice and guidance regarding the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment.


What Is the Healing Time of Flat Warts After Blisters?

The healing time for flat warts after blistering varies and takes several days for the blisters to heal completely. It is critical to know that individual healing times may vary depending on factors such as the person's immune system, the severity of warts, and the effectiveness of the treatment used.


How Can Flat Warts Be Prevented With Herbal Remedies?

There are several herbal remedies that may help eliminate flat warts on the feet. Tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and garlic are commonly utilized. Apply these remedies directly to the warts, covering them with a band-aid. This process is repeated till the warts subside. For accurate evaluation and guidance, consult a doctor.
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Dr. Filza Hafeez



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