The common, contagious wart
All warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Only a handful of the more than 100 types of this virus actually cause warts. Even so, it’s hard to avoid the virus since it can live on all types of surfaces, such as towels, floors, door handles, and desks. They can also thrive in your skin for up to a year before a wart appears. For these reasons, it’s practically impossible to determine how you became exposed or where your wart came from.
Warts are spread through touching, so you should never touch a wart you see on someone else. You can also spread warts from one part of your own body to another.
Warts can occur anywhere on the body. Since they’re transmitted by casual contact, they’re most likely to happen on your hands, fingers, face, and feet.
Keep reading to learn about warts that appear on your face.
Warts are small bumps that feel hard and rough to the touch. They vary in color and can look grayish, brown, black, or pink. Warts don’t usually hurt and aren’t a type of cancer.
Facial skin with nicks and cuts caused by shaving, chafing, or acne sores may be more vulnerable to the virus which causes warts. There are two types of common warts that occur on the face:
Flat warts often occur on the forehead and cheeks. These very tiny warts are about the size of a poppy seed. They can occur in large clusters, giving the appearance of many tiny dots. They range in color from flesh-toned to pink or yellowish brown.
Flat warts are smoother than other types of warts and have a slightly raised appearance. Flat warts are sometimes referred to as juvenile warts because children are more likely to get them than adults.
Filiform warts look different than all other types of warts. They protrude out of the skin with a spiky, bristly appearance. They can be flesh-toned, pink, or darker than surrounding skin. Filiform warts are often found around the mouth, nose, or eyes. If they occur in an eye crease or other type of skin fold they can cause itching or discomfort.
See a doctor
Filiform warts on the face can’t be treated at home and require a doctor’s care.
There’s no cure for warts, but there are many techniques for removing them which often work to diminish their appearance and spreading. Warts can also clear up on their own without treatment, although it may take up to two years for this to happen. Warts in children tend to resolve more readily than warts in adults.
If you choose to let a wart heal on its own, try not to touch it. This may spread the virus to other parts of your body or to other people. No matter how they’re removed, warts may reoccur after they’ve gone away.
The type of removal treatment may be determined, in part, by the type of wart you have. There are a number of professional and at-home remedies which are effective at wart removal for both the face and hands. See a doctor if you have many warts or if your warts are painful. You should also seek medical treatment if your warts don’t improve with at-home treatments or if they spread.
Home remedies for facial warts
Due to its sensitive nature, warts on your face should always be seen by a doctor before you try to remove them at home. A doctor can give guidance and may be able to prescribe a treatment that you can do at home.
Never treat a wart at home which is close to your eye or in your nose. Some treatments, such as salicylic acid, should never be used on your face or neck as they can burn sensitive skin.
Any type of at-home remedy should be used with extreme caution and cleared with your doctor first.
A few natural remedies for wart removal include:
- Garlic extract. Garlic contains allium sativum, a compound with antiviral properties. Crush a fresh clove of garlic and apply the crushed pieces to the wart. Cover it with tape or with a bandage and reapply daily. Note: Garlic is known to cause chemical burns on skin. If you feel itching, burning, or increased tingling, remove the garlic and wash the area.
- Lemon juice. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which may help destroy the virus. Don’t use full-strength lemon juice on your face. A study found that a diluted mixture of lemon juice and water was effective at removing flat warts when applied over a six-week period.
- Pineapple juice. There’s no scientific data to back it up, but this anecdotal remedy may be effective at eliminating facial warts for some people. Pineapple juice contains enzymes which may burn the wart off when applied daily over the course of several weeks. Try using pineapple juice applied with a cotton swab directly to the wart before going to bed each night for several weeks.
If you experience discomfort or redness from any at-home treatment, stop using it and check in with a doctor for an alternative type of treatment.
Medical wart removal
- Cantharidin. Cantharidin is a blistering agent which causes chemical burns. Your doctor may use cantharidin or a mixture of this chemical with other ingredients to coat the wart, causing a blister to form under it. Your doctor will then be able to remove the wart. This treatment can cause pain and may not be appropriate for everyone.
- Cryotherapy. This treatment is also known as cryosurgery. Your doctor will inject or apply liquid nitrogen into the wart, freezing it, possibly several times over the course of two to three weeks.
- Surgical removal. This technique is often used to remove filiform warts. Your doctor will use a scalpel to shave or snip the wart off. Sometimes more than one treatment is required.
- Electrosurgery and curettage. This procedure combines burning the wart through electrocauterization and scraping it off. These two techniques can be used together and as sole treatments.
These basic tips can help you prevent transferring HPV from the surfaces around you on to your hands and face.
- Keep your hands clean and don’t touch your face to eliminate the transfer of the virus.
- Never use someone else’s makeup or eye drops.
- If you cut your face while shaving, are chafed, or have a pimple that’s open and irritated, protect and cover your skin.
- If you do get a wart, treat it immediately to stop it from spreading.
Warts are caused by HPV and are spread through casual contact, especially if you have broken skin. Being exposed to these viruses doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get a wart. People with compromised immune systems may be more likely to get warts, but anyone can get them.
Many types of warts can be treated at home, but others require a doctor’s care, especially if they’re on your face. The viruses which cause warts cannot be cured, but warts can often be successfully removed.