How to Stop Flat Warts From Spreading

Wash your hands after touching any type of wart.
Wash your hands after touching any type of wart. (Image: washing hands image by Julia Britvich from

Flat warts spread easily and tend to occur in great numbers, states the American Academy of Dermatology. Growing in numbers of between 20 and 100, often on the faces of both children and men, and on the legs of women, they spread to other parts of the body when the affected skin is irritated. The AAD advises that medical treatment of flat warts be left to your doctor if they become unmanageable. However, because they eventually go away on their own, you can stop flat warts from spreading using guidelines recommended by medical professionals.

Let flat warts resolve on their own, advises the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Your body builds up a resistance to flat warts over a certain period of time, after which they'll go away on their own. This could take months or even years. However, if you take a "wait and see" approach, it's likely that you'll acquire an immunity to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that causes the wart, making you less susceptible to flat warts in the future.

Use care during personal grooming. Flat warts spread when your razor grazes over the wart and transfers HPV to an uninfected area of skin. Don't shave over flat warts, advises the Mayo Clinic. Avoid brushing or combing hair on body parts affected by flat warts.

Don't pick or scratch at flat warts. The virus can also be transferred to other parts of your body by your fingernails. Whenever you touch the warts, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water, advises the Mayo Clinic.

Do not use drugstore wart treatments to self-treat flat warts on the face or genitals, cautions the National Institutes of Health. These topical medications, which are applied to warts every day for several weeks, can resolve warts if used safely and properly. However, as the AAD points out, flat warts are problematic because they occur in such great numbers.

Ask your doctor for help if flat warts get out of control. The AAD states that some topical medications your doctor may prescribe may include those that peel your skin, such as salicylic acid, tretinoin or glycolic acid. Sometimes adults may require surgical removal of flat warts.

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