Flat Warts or Juvenile Warts

Health Articles > Warts > Flat Warts

Flat warts are more likely to appear in children and young adults because as we grow older, our immune systems are better equipped to deal with the virus that causes warts.  This is why flat warts are often called juvenile warts.

Flat warts are very small – only about the size of a pinhead – with smooth flat tops, slightly raised above the skin and they often cluster together in one place such as the face or the forehead but can also appear on the neck, arms and hands. There may be a hundred or more in the same color as the skin or they can be white. 

Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus or HPV of which there are well over a hundred different strains.  The strains of this virus numbered 3, 10, 28 and 49 are the ones that mainly cause flat warts.  The virus (in the form of viral particles) needs a break in the skin (such as a scratch, small cut or wound) in order to invade, to grow and to become a wart.

Once they have developed into warts (which can take up to a year), they are contagious to others and to other parts of your own body particularly if you scratch yourself or spread them through shaving. You will often notice them in areas that are frequently shaved such as women's legs and men's faces.

Flat warts cause no pain and are not harmful in any way so it is not always necessary to treat them because they will go away by themselves in time.  In fact they can be difficult to treat because they occur in such numbers and in areas where they can keep re-infecting themselves.

You can avoid the risk of contracting or transmitting flat warts by:

  • Steering clear of direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has warts.
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  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any warts on yourself or someone else.

Sometimes flat warts that have completely disappeared will suddenly appear again and you have to start treating them from scratch.  This usually happens because the virus that caused the flat warts originally is still present in your system and your immune system has not strengthened sufficiently to get rid of it.