Flat Warts: Types, Treatments, Diagnosis, and Outcome

Treatment of Flat Wart – How to Get Rid of it


Flat Warts are small, about the size of a pinhead, and as their name suggests flat warts have flat tops.  As many as a hundred may be clustered in one location.  They are a similar color to the skin, being pink, light brown or yellow, and are much smoother to the touch than other types of warts.   Common locations for flat warts are the face and the forehead, but these little lumps can also grow on the neck, arms, and hands.

Like other kinds of warts, flat warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many types of HPV, just as there are many types of warts. The varieties of HPV that tend to cause flat warts are HPV 3, 10, 28 and 49. HPV is a common, contagious virus that can be transmitted indirectly. It’s most likely to attack an opening in the skin, such as cut or scratch. In fact, flat warts often show up along the same line as a cut.

Flat warts are most common in children and are often called “juvenile warts” as a result. However, they can occur in adults as well. While flat warts can become irritated, the main problem they pose is a cosmetic one. 

Flat warts tend to stay small in size, but they can be numerous in quantity. Flat warts often spread to other places on the body by scratching or shaving.

Flat warts can be disfiguring and embarrassing, and occasionally they itch or hurt.

Can flat warts be passed from one person to another?

Yes. Flat warts on the skin can be transmitted from person to person by direct physical contact. It is also possible to transmit warts by using towels or other objects that were used by a person who has warts.

Warts on the genitals can be passed to another person during sexual contact. Sometimes, a woman may not know she has warts and may transmit warts to her sexual partner without even knowing it.

The time between the first contact with warts and the time that the new warts will appear is often several months.


Flat warts are caused by human papillomavirus that has more than 100 strains. The main cause of flat warts is HPV strains 3, 10, 28 and 49. Viruses generally grow in warm and moist areas so human skin which as mucosal surface is ideal for their growth. Once the HPV finds the right place for its survival it begins to grow and divide rapidly. HPV is a contagious virus that spreads easily either by direct or indirect contact.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common locations for flat warts include the following:

  • Face, especially in children
  • Neck
  • Backs of hands
  • Arms
  • Legs, especially in women who shave
  • Beard area, especially in men who shave

Home remedies in treating the Flat Warts:

  • Wash the affected area with a disinfectant and soak it for some time. Apply some petroleum jelly on the surrounding skin to prevent it from irritation. Gently rub the wart area to remove dead skin.
  • Place a fresh sliced potato on the wart and apply an adhesive bandage overnight. Repeat the process for a week or till the wart falls off.
  • Apply a paste of baking soda and water on the flat wart three times a day. Within a few days it will dry up.
  • Aloe gel that is soaked in cotton ball can be applied on the affected area which will result in the drying up of the face wart.
  • Milk sap from the stem of a dandelion can be rubbed on the affected area.  This is a very effective method.

Flat Warts Treatment

Sometimes treatment is unnecessary and the flat warts will go away on their own. 

When treatment is necessary, the most common treatment for flat warts are:

  • medications (for small flat warts)
  • Must be conducted by a doctor to prevent injury to the normal skin surrounding the warts.
  • over the counter medication
  • Contain mild acids that help remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the wart
  • surgical removal (for large warts)
  • laser surgery
  • cauterization

Cryofreeze is another method to treat flat warts on feet or hands. Freeze the warts with liquid nitrogen that bursts the affected cells and hence disrupt their growth. Though flat warts are harmless, they are painful and irritating hence proper measures must be taken to cure them. 

Duct Tape Some studies suggest that using duct tape to remove flat warts is more effective than freezing them, although that theory is still up for debate. It’s not simply the pulling of the adhesive from the skin that removes flat warts. It’s actually the covering of the flat warts that treats them.

Researchers believe that using duct tape to cover a flat wart stimulates an immune response from the body that speeds up healing. Of course, this process doesn’t occur immediately. In fact, it can take weeks for the duct tape method to work. And the bad news is that the duct tape needs to stay on the entire time. So if it’s appearance you’re worried about, this may not be a much better option than waiting the virus out.

Flat warts are often longer-lasting than common warts, recalcitrant to treatments, and, in cosmetically important areas, make the most effective (destructive) methods less desirable. Usual first-line treatment is daily tretinoin (retinoic acid 0.05% cream). If peeling is not sufficient for wart removal, another irritant (eg, 5% benzoyl peroxide) or 5% SCA cream can be applied sequentially with tretinoin. Imiquimod 5% cream can be used alone or in combination with topical drugs or destructive measures. Topical 5-fluorouracil (1% or 5% cream) can also be used. 

Self-Care Guidelines

Flat Warts can be highly bothersome and need to be treated with possibly quick results but since there cure depends only on the immune response, it takes a while for the treatment to take effect. Treatment can be painful at times.

  • Over-the-counter wart removers have a high percentage of salicylic acid and work by dissolving away the layer of skin infected with the virus. This needs to be used daily and can sometimes be irritating if it touches unaffected skin around it.
  • Duct tape applied daily to the affected area seems to work for unknown reasons. The tape should be very sticky and kept on for a few days.
  • Over-the-counter freezing medications are available but have not been found to be very effective.
  • Coupled with the above therapies, the flat wart should be soaked in warm water, and any loose skin should be removed every few days with a mild abrasive, like a pumice stone.
  • Family members should avoid sharing personal items such as towels.

Flat Warts Prevention

Some tips to prevent the spread of flat warts are:

  • Avoid direct skin contact with a wart on someone else.
  • After filing your wart, wash the file carefully since you can spread the virus to other parts of your body.
  • After touching any of your warts, wash your hands carefully.

Because flat warts are contagious, early treatment can prevent them from spreading to other areas of the body.