Tips to Remove Flat Warts

Updated November 21, 2016

Flat warts can pop up anywhere: on your arms, face, legs, even the backs of your hands. Flat warts are smoother and smaller than other warts and are often seen on children. Called verruca plana or juvenile warts, these soft warts are a slightly different colour than the skin that surrounds them, according to

Description and Treatment

Flat warts are flat and smooth, whereas a plantar wart is rough. They are benign tumours caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV).

Shaving can result in flat warts. Women sometimes develop them on their legs as a result of shaving and the subsequent inflammation and irritation that can occur.

According to the Mayo Clinic, flat warts can be treated in many ways, including using over-the-counter preparations that consist of salicylic acid. This acid removes the layers of the wart incrementally. Cryotherapy (freezing the wart) and laser and surgical removal are also options. Imiquidmod (Aldara), a cream that activates your immune system, helps your body battle various skin diseases, including flat warts


If you opt for cryotherapy, the doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This will cause a blister to form around the wart. After about a week, the dead tissue will fall off.


Surgical removal involves cutting away the wart and destroying the base of the wart with an electric needle. Your physician may decide to freeze the base of the wart (which is cryosurgery). Surgery is performed when other therapies have failed.


Stubborn warts can be treated by laser surgery, which means burning off the warts with a laser beam. This is a non-invasive process sometimes known as CO2 laser cautery. According to, larger flat warts may require laser surgery in order to remove the lesions.


Cauterisation is a form of treatment in which the tissue is destroyed with a hot instrument.


Another option, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is the use of cantharidin, a substance that is mixed with other chemicals and applied to the wart. Cantharidin is odourless, colourless and a solid substance at room temperature. Cantharidin is secreted by the male blister beetle and passed to the female beetle during the mating. In diluted form, it can be used to remove warts. After this substance is applied, a blister forms around the wart, just as it does in crytotherapy. The wart is covered with a bandage. Eventually, the blister will lift the wart from the skin.


An experimental treatment not yet approved by the FDA is the use of dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB). According to, DNCB is a chemical that is considered a "contact sensitiser," meaning it can result in a red, itchy rash much like poison oak or ivy. It has been used to measure the efficacy of the immune system. The more extensive the skin's reaction to DNCB and the quicker the reaction appears on the skin, the stronger the immune system. Stimulating the immune system by applying DNCB to the skin once a week might delay opportunistic infections like flat warts.

No Guarantees

There is no guarantee that warts will not recur after treatment. The warts may be removed, but if the virus remains you may experience a recurrence.

The removal of flat warts can leave scars.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.