Warts and verrucas

Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that most people have at some point in their life. They are caused by a virus. They usually go away on their own but it may take months or even years.

Check if you have a wart or verruca

wart on knuckle
Warts feel firm and rough. They can appear on palms, knuckles, knees and fingers
verruca on ball of foot
Verrucas appear on your feet. They have tiny black dots under the hard skin
warts on forehead
Some warts are round, flat and can be yellow (plane warts). You can have many of them
mosaic warts
Clusters of warts spread over an area of skin (mosaic warts) are common on feet and hands

Warts don't cause you any harm. Some people find them itchy, painful or embarrassing. Verrucas are more likely to be painful – like standing on a needle.

You can treat warts if they bother you, keep coming back or are painful.

Genital warts

Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) passed on through vaginal and anal sex. They can be treated by your GP, at a sexual health or GUM clinic.

Read more about genital warts - sexualwellbeing.ie

A pharmacist can help with warts and verrucas

You can buy creams, plasters and sprays from pharmacies to get rid of warts and verrucas.

These treatments can take up to 3 months to complete. They may irritate your skin and do not always work. You should not use these treatments on your face.

Your pharmacist can give you advice about the best treatment for you.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you're worried about a growth on your skin
  • you have a wart or verruca that keeps coming back
  • you have a very large or painful wart or verruca
  • a wart bleeds or changes in how it looks
  • you have a wart on your face or genitals

Treatment from your GP

Your GP may be able to freeze a wart or verruca so it falls off a few weeks later. Sometimes it takes a few sessions.

They may also prescribe creams or other treatments for genital warts or if freezing has not worked.

How to stop warts and verrucas spreading

Warts and verrucas are caused by a virus. They can be spread to other people from contaminated surfaces or through close skin contact. You're more likely to spread a wart or verruca if your skin is wet or damaged.

It can take months for a wart or verruca to appear after contact with the virus.


  • wash your hands after touching a wart or verruca

  • change your socks daily if you have a verruca

  • cover warts and verrucas with a plaster when swimming

  • take care not to cut a wart when shaving


  • do not share towels, flannels, socks or shoes if you have a wart or verruca

  • do not bite your nails or suck fingers with warts on

  • do not walk barefoot in public places if you have a verruca

  • do not scratch or pick a wart

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 26 April 2020
Next review due: 26 April 2023

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.