What are warts on the head?

Warts on the head or warts vulgaris, are benign epidermal lesions on the skin, caused by an infection of the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear with different morphologies and be different from one person to another because there are many subtypes within this virus.

Warts on the head or common warts are transmitted by contact with people infected with HPV. After exposure to the virus, it can take two to six months for a wart to appear on the skin.

Common warts (vulgar warts) are caused by HPV types 1, 2, 4 and 7, and are the most common ones that occur in areas such as the head. Strains 6 and 11 have been described as responsible for genital warts.

Note: Common wartsare not dangerousand, over time, disappear on their own. A study establishes that warts are avery common infectionand that the same organism can resolve in a high percentage of patients, especially in people without disorders in the immune system. (1)

Causes of warts on the head

The causes that originate the appearance of warts on the head, come from the virus that creates them, to the means of contagion. Here we mention the most common:


After infection, HPV is very frequently found in the epithelium , even in the absence of the wart, to the point that some are part of our skin microbial flora.

To highlight: An article on “Human Papillomavirus Infection “, associates HPV infection with the appearance of different types of warts on the skin. (two)

Contact with infected objects and people

When the virus takes hold, it forms a wart, which is a lump of thickened skintag. The skin of the wart sloughs off over time, just like normal skin sloughs off.

When it does, the skin carries the virus and if someone touches the peeling skin, either by direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly , the virus can then be transmitted to another person.

To highlight: An article in the “European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases volume” , highlights that a study in women with no previous sexual experience, the results suggest that HPV is not sexually transmitted in all cases and that it can be acquired by ways other than sexual contact. (3)

In addition to the aforementioned, if we touch a wart and break it, we must be very carefultag. If the secretion touches another part of the body or we touch it with infected fingers, we can cause a new wart to appear.

skin lesions

If the skin of our body suffers from lesions such as sores, blisters, hives, scales, vesicles or others, these can constitute a gateway for the virus to enter the body, with the consequent appearance of warts.

Note: One of the ways the virus enters the body is through a cut, skin scrape, or injury.

When are head warts dangerous?

There are signs or manifestations that are not common to the type and characteristicsof warts on the head, therefore, attention must be paid to any unexpected change. We mention below the most relevant ones:

size increase

When a wart starts to grow , it is probably because HPV stimulates the skin to attract and create its own blood supply and nerves, which makes the wart much stronger and less likely to go away.

Warts do not represent an immediate problem for the health of the individual , beyond the unsightly appearance that they represent, since on some occasions they can acquire a size that makes them unacceptable.

But, when they increase a lot in size, they become a risk, since they are easier to break accidentally , being able to spread the appearance of more warts on other areas of the body with their secretions.

Important: However, these growths may be falsely interpreted as the presence of a common wart, which could be Squamous Cell Carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma, so see a doctor immediately.

pain and itching

If there is any discomfort such as pain or itching , you instinctively touch or scratch the wart, and when you do, the skin carries the virus and if someone touches the peeling skin, either by direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly , the virus can then spread to another person.

Color and texture change

Warts have their own characterization in terms of shape, color and size, depending on the strain of origin, but if you notice a significant change in their characteristic morphology, you should See Doctor immediately, as it may be some type of wart cancer. skin.

discharge of blood or other substance

Warts have their own blood supply. Do not try to remove the wart on the head, tearing it off with your fingernails or by using a sharp object, since you Can please self-contagion by bleeding or indirectly through the cutting instrument, thus causing further infection. serious.


If the appearance of warts on the head, at some point in your life, are associated with feverish states in the body , it is reason enough to Consult a doctor , since it may be evidence of possible complications.

To highlight: There are some symptoms that show possible complications:increased pain, bleeding that does not stop, changes in shape or color or discharge in the form of pus or fever. If they appear, consult your doctor.

Treatment to remove warts on the head

Science has made a series of technologies available to patientssuffering from this disease, to eliminate these unsightly skin abnormalities quickly and with less trauma. We mention the most used:

Cryotherapy, laser or surgery

Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that uses intense cold to freeze and destroy diseased tissue and its application is useful in the treatment of warts.

It is usually applied every week or every 3 weeks,until the wart disappears. This treatment causes temporary discomfort and can lead to the appearance of a blister. The success of this technique is 70% after 3 to 4 months of regular treatment.

On the other hand, laser surgery allows cutting and cauterizing certain tissuesin a few seconds, without causing bleeding and without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. Rarely, a wart that keeps coming back requires a small operation to remove the tissue or laser surgery to remove it.

To highlight: A study shows promising results in the use of a type of laser in the treatment of verruca vulgaris. (4)

Topicals and ointments prescribed by a specialist

There are ointments for topical use , which induce the local production of antiviral cytokines in skin cells.

Similarly, contact immunotherapy has been used to treat wartstag. Generally for this type of treatment, the warts are first soaked in hot water. After this, the skin of the wart becomes more permeable to topical drugs.

Note: One study recommends the use of specialized topical drugs for the treatment of recalcitrant common warts. (5)

How to avoid the appearance of warts on the head?

There are some practices that you should use in order to avoid both contagion and the appearance of warts on the head. We mention some of them:

Avoid contact with infected people

The skin of the wart flakes, that is, it loses epithelial cells, with which direct contact with another person will be spreading HPV, since the flaked cells carry the virus and with it, the appearance of warts on the head. .

To highlight: According to the “Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology” (AEDV), common warts disappear after six months in 30% of patients and, in 40%, after two years. (6)

Avoid sharing personal items

In the same way that desquamated epithelial cells infected with HPV are transmitted directly through contact between people, there may also be indirect transmission through the shared use of Personal belongings or objects.

Note: If you have direct contact with another person’s warts or personal items such as towels, wash your hands thoroughly afterward, just as you would after touching your own warts, to prevent their spread.

Maintain proper hygiene

Periodic and adequate hygiene guarantees clean skin free of pathogens , but we must be careful with skin hygiene, since an excess can cause a partial loss of epithelial cells that serve as a protective barrier for the epidermis, making it vulnerable. to the skin for the entry of viruses such as HPV.

Avoid tearing them off with your fingernails or sharp objects.

Pulling out or peeling off warts on the head with nails or other sharp objects such as knives or scalpels has several consequences. One of them is that when detaching the wart from the head with the nails, the desquamated cells are inserted into the nails, becoming a vehicle for spreading the virus.

On the other hand, the lesion causes fluids to emerge from the wart, which can lead to a process of self-contagion, and the area of the warts spreads.

The same happens with sharp objects, since these are covered with the fluids or scales of the wart, also becoming a vehicle of contagion, for the same carrier or for other people.

Key Conclusions

  • Head warts are caused by Human papillomaviruses.
  • They appear as raised or flattened formations anywhere on the scalp.
  • Most warts are painless.
  • The specialist identifies the wart by its appearance or, to make a differential diagnosis , they request a biopsy.
  • They can be removed with chemicals, freezing, burning, or cutting.
  • They spread more easilyfrom one area of the body to another rather than from person to person.
  • For there to be a contagion of HPV and its subsequent manifestation in warts, there must be a gateway such as lacerations or wounds on the skin.
  • Warts on the head are more common in people with weak or depressed immune systems.

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