Filiform warts look different than most warts. They have long, narrow projections that extend about 1 to 2 millimeters from the skin. They can be yellow, brown, pink, or skin-toned, and don’t generally form in clusters.
Since they tend to form around the eyelids and lips, they’re also known as facial warts.
Filiform warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). If you have HPV, you can spread the warts to other people via skin contact, especially if the skin is broken.
While they’re not cancerous, filiform warts can cause discomfort. Learn more about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of filiform warts.
Filiform warts look distinctive. These long, narrow projections most often appear on the:
They can also spread quickly to other parts of the body.
Filiform warts are generally painless and don’t cause other symptoms. Your doctor can often diagnosis this distinctive wart by look alone.
Symptoms may arise if the wart develops in sensitive areas, such as skin folds. In that case, filiform warts may cause:
HPV causes filiform warts. There are more than 100 strains of HPV, but only some strains (1, 2, 4, 27, and 29) are known to cause filiform warts.
If you contract one of these HPV strains, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get filiform warts, though.
How does it spread?
HPV can spread between people through skin-to-skin contact and sexual activity. Risk of transmission may increase if you have:
- an open cut or abrasion on the skin
- a weakened immune system
- warm and moist skin
- continued exposure to the virus
HPV can also spread from one part of the body to another part that’s unaffected.
Most treatments work to remove the warts, but they don’t remove the virus. There’s no cure for HPV at the moment, but symptoms can be managed.
Vaccines can prevent certain HPV strains. None of the current vaccines target the strains that cause filiform warts, though.
For most people, filiform warts will go away over time thanks to the body’s immune system.
If a filiform wart is causing issues, see your doctor to remove it.
Filiform warts on the fingers and hands are easier to treat than those on the face.
Most warts are removed through burning or surgery. Here are the common procedures:
- Excision. Your doctor will use a scalpel, blade, or other instrument to shave or snip the filiform wart. They may need to do this multiple times for best results.
- Burning. Also known as electrosurgery, burning is a common treatment for filiform warts. Your doctor will scrape off the wart before or after the electrosurgery.
- Cryotherapy. This is a common treatment for warts. Your doctor will spray liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. It’s not too painful, but multiple treatments may be needed for it to work.
- Cantharidin. Your doctor will “paint” cantharidin over your wart. This causes a blister to form under the wart so it dies. After a week, your doctor will be able to remove the wart by cutting it. This treatment may not be available or work for everyone.
People with a weakened immune system due to age or an underlying health condition, such as HIV, may have a more difficult time getting rid of the warts.
For warts that are more difficult to treat, your doctor may use:
- laser treatments
- chemical peels
Sometimes you may be able to treat warts at home. However, filiform warts may be more difficult to treat due to their projections and location.
Avoid home treatments if:
- The instructions ask you to cut the wart or rub it with a fingernail file.
- You have diabetes and the warts are on your feet. Diabetes can cause loss of sensation in your feet, and you may injure yourself without noticing.
- The wart is on your face or another sensitive part of your body.
If the filiform warts aren’t on your face, you may be able to try one of the following home remedies.
These aim to get your immune system working against the wart.
Don’t let anyone else use the tools you used to treat your warts.
|Freezing treatments||This home spray kit is similar to cryotherapy but meant for warts on the hands only. You’ll need to scrape away the wart yourself.|
|Salicylic acid||First, you apply warm water to the area to soften the wart. Then, use a scrub brush, wet cloth, or blade to apply the salicylic acid cream to the wart. Remember to do this consistently as it may take a few weeks for the wart to disappear fully.|
|Topical creams||Doctors commonly prescribe 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod, tretinoin, or benzoyl peroxide to help warts eventually peel away.|
While filiform warts are noncancerous and often asymptomatic, they’re highly contagious. They can spread to other parts of your body or to other people, especially if there’s an open wound.
See your doctor about treatment if you have a wart that won’t go away.
Filiform warts caused by HPV don’t develop complications, such as cancer.
Filiform warts are noncancerous. People with a healthy immune system can fight them off over time. That said, the warts are highly contagious and may cause discomfort.
Seek medical treatment to help speed up recovery.
To prevent filiform warts from spreading, follow these guidelines.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially if you touch your warts.
- Avoid picking at your warts.
- Cover the warts with a bandage.
- Keep the area around your warts dry.
How to prevent HPV
- Get the HPV vaccine. Numerous
high-quality studiesshow its effectiveness. Keep in mind the HPV vaccine only protects against a few strains of the virus.
- Get tested regularly for HPV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The majority of people with HPV don’t know they have it since it doesn’t often cause symptoms. Encourage your sexual partners to also get tested regularly.
- Use barrier methods, like condoms, and lube with every new sexual partner. Barrier methods reduce the risk of STIs, and lube reduces friction and tears. Open wounds, even microtears, can increase the chances of contracting an STI.
Contact your doctor immediately if you think you’ve been exposed to HPV. HPV often doesn’t show symptoms, so you may unknowingly contract or pass on the virus to others.