Flat Warts – How to Identify & Get Rid of This Kind of Wart


What are Flat Warts?

Flat warts or verruca plana are small lumps that are, like some other warts, comparable to the size of a pinhead. How these lesions differ from other warts is that its top portion is flat; hence, their name. (1)

These warts are also known as juvenile warts because children and teenagers are the most likely to be affected by this type of wart. Most commonly, you will have this skin condition on the face or on the forehead. You can also grow them on your hands, neck or arms. They normally grow in clusters and can form groups with as much as a hundred in one cluster or in a location. Like common warts, they are flesh skin-colored with a touch of pink, yellow and light brown. However, they are smooth to the touch.

Causes of Flat Warts

This is one of the skin conditions, like all warts, that is caused by the virus, human papillomavirus, or popularly known as HPV. Over a hundred strains are currently identified and 60 of these are known to cause various warts on the human skin. Specifically, the HPV strains that cause flat warts are HPV strains 3, 10, 28 and 49. Human papillomavirus HPV is known to survive, even without a human host, in warm and moist places. So, they are normally present around swimming pools, public shower rooms, and washrooms. Whenever we are infected with the virus, the reason why they grow on our skin and mucous membranes is that it is warm and moist. (1)

When these viruses invade our bodies, they just find the perfect place and then start to grow and flourish. The virus is exceedingly infectious and can be transferred through direct skin contact or when a person touches items that are infected with the virus. If you exercise poor hygiene, you are more likely to be infected with HPV and can possibly get flat warts. You are also more likely to be infected with HPV and may grow this type of wart (or any of the virally transmitted skin conditions) if your immune system is weak because you are undergoing other treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy or any other treatments that weaken your immune system.

Symptoms of Flat Warts

It could take about a year for them to be fully evident. So, by the time that they start growing, you may not know that they are already there. As stated earlier, they appear to be the same color as our skin and with a touch of pink, yellow or brown and they have flat tops, which is the reason why they get their name.

They are a bit elevated from the top portion of the skin and on an average, are of the same size as the head of a pin. They also appear to be oval or round in shape. You will most commonly find them around scratches on the skin. You can grow a flat wart on the face, forehead, hands, legs, arms and in areas where its shaved regularly like the lower half portion of a man’s face or the legs of women. (2)

It is rare that you see a wart of this type grow alone because they almost always grow in clusters. Like any other warts, they are not normally painful. The only time they become painful is when there is pressure or when it is bumped. These warts, like any other warts, are benign and non-cancerous. They are not dangerous and the only problem it will give you is embarrassment over the stigma of having skin growths.

Developing Flat Warts on your forehead can feel like a horrible insurmountable problem but it’s not.

How to Get Rid of These Warts

One of your best options to get rid of flat warts is to just boost your immune system. If your immune system is good and strong, it can fight the HPV in your body and can start to neutralize the viruses.  They should then go away in a few months or so. Treating this skin condition can be very tricky since they have higher risks of recurring after treatment and are more likely to infect the same area again. Afterall, a weakend immune system is what allowed them to grow in the first place. (3)

It’s important once you have identified the growths, to prevent spreading it even further. Since one of the common locations is on the face, you might want to avoid shaving the areas where the warts are. (2)You’ll just have to endure having facial hair for a while. The same goes for women who regularly shave their legs and have flat warts on their legs. It may take a while until flat warts will go away completely. You can certainly shave around them.

Some would say that the use of duct tape to remove flat warts is effective, but it has not been proven to be the case with like it is with plantar warts. If you have one on your face and you are thinking of using duct tape as your method of removing it, you might want to consult your doctor first. The thickness of the body skin is different from your facial skin. The skin on the face is much thinner than that on the thick parts of your feet.

Because of embarrassment, most people do not want to wait long for warts to be removed. A few months or a year can seem like an eternity with growth on your face. So, they will take chances with different treatments for removing these flat warts more quickly. Another way to treat this variety of wart is by using over the counter medications that hydrate your skin with water. The skin where medication is constantly applied will peel off in no time. As soon as it peels off, it will carry the parts of the virus along.

You also have options for more aggressive treatments like the use of Cantharidin or laser treatment https://warts.org/wart-removal/laser-surgery. But these would require a doctor’s consultation and approval. You also have the option to use cryotherapy which freezes warts with liquid nitrogen and removes them.

For a gentler approach in treating flat warts, a doctor may prescribe you topical creams like benzoyl peroxide creams or retinoic acid creams. These creams are made to inflame your skin to help peel off the flat wart.

Cryotherapy, also known as ice treatment, is an effective method for flat wart removal. From the term itself “ice treatment”, this form of therapy freezes warts with the aid of liquid nitrogen and they can then be extracted through excision. This form of remedy is advised by professional doctors whenever the condition of the growths are extreme. Going through this therapy may leave scars on treated areas.

The usage of Cantharidin is another way to remove flat warts. Cantharidin is a chemical that can demobilize epidermal cells. This is placed on the wart and a bandage is placed to cover the affected area. You may feel slight to moderate pain within three to eight hours after the chemical is applied to flat warts.

The most effective way in flat wart removal is through laser surgery. However, compared to other methods and treatments, this is way more expensive. The method uses a laser beam to remove the growth. Depending on how big the area is or the number of warts are, local anesthesia is used to ease the pain. Given that the operation is successful, and flat warts have been visibly removed, there is still a chance that they may return as they are caused by the human papillomavirus HPV and it may still be inside the body.

Alternate names: verruca plana, plane warts, flat genital warts

For information about other forms of warts, just head back to our home page here and check the drop down.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279586/
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/warts.html
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/how-to-get-rid-of-warts

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