What are the risks of leaving a wart untreated?

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
November 29, 2023

A wart may seem like a minor inconvenience, but leaving it can have several consequences that extend beyond mere aesthetics. If you've been contemplating whether to remove or ignore that pesky wart, it's essential to understand the potential risks associated with leaving it untreated. 

In this article, we'll cover these risks while also exploring how warts develop, the complications they can cause and the various treatments available in Singapore, including professional wart removal.

How a wart develops

Warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the top layer of your skin through tiny cuts or scratches. Once inside, the virus multiplies the growth of skin cells, developing into a wart. 

These growths can take on various forms, such as common warts, plantar warts (on the soles of your feet), and genital warts (in the genital and anal areas).


One of the significant risks of leaving a wart untreated is its potential to spread. Warts can spread to other parts of your body through contact with contaminated objects such as used towels and other personal items. It can also spread when you scratch or pick a wart and then touch other parts of your body.

You can also get warts if you touch a surface that has been in contact with someone with warts.

This ease of transmission presents a risk to the vulnerable, such as babies who playfully touch various surfaces, and even their pregnant mothers who care for them. If you don't treat your warts promptly, you risk causing harm to others and developing more warts on your body.

Pain and discomfort

Warts can be painful and uncomfortable, especially when they are located on weight-bearing areas like your feet. Plantar warts, in particular, can make walking and standing a painful ordeal. The longer you leave them untreated, the more discomfort you may experience.

Secondary infections

Another risk associated with untreated warts is the possibility of secondary infections. Warts can create openings in your skin, making it vulnerable to bacterial infections. These infections can worsen your condition and lead to more severe health issues that require additional medical attention.

Cosmetic concerns

While some warts may not be immediately noticeable, others can be unsightly and affect your self-esteem. Facial warts, for example, can be particularly distressing. Ignoring the cosmetic aspect of warts can harm your overall well-being and confidence.

Interference with function

Depending on their location, warts can interfere with the normal functioning of your body. Plantar warts can make walking difficult, genital warts can cause discomfort during sexual activity, and warts on your hands can impair your ability to perform tasks that require precision and agility. Leaving these warts untreated can significantly hinder your daily life.

Are warts a risk factor for cancer?

Warts are contagious but they do not cause cancer. Most warts are caused by strains of the HPV that are benign.

However, some specific strains of HPV, notably high-risk types like HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, and oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. These high-risk HPV strains may lead to cancer but this is rare.

Professional wart removal

Now that we've discussed the risks of leaving warts untreated, let's explore some available treatment options. Professional wart removal is often the most effective way to address this issue. Here are some methods used by 1Aesthetics.

Ultrapulse CO2 laser

The Ultrapulse CO2 laser is a precise and efficient method for wart removal. It works by vaporising the wart tissue layer by layer, leaving minimal scarring. This treatment is often used for larger or stubborn warts.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy the wart tissue. It's a safe and effective option for wart removal, with minimal scarring and a shorter recovery period than surgery.

Vascular laser

Vascular lasers target the blood vessels feeding the wart. By cutting off the blood supply, the wart eventually dies and falls off. This method is particularly effective for treating warts with visible blood vessels.


Surgical wart removal may be necessary for large or stubborn warts. Surgical removal involves cutting out the wart and suturing the wound. This method typically leaves a scar.

Wart removal injections

Wart removal injections work by introducing medicine into or near the wart that either directly damages the wart tissue or stimulates the body's immune system to target and eliminate the wart.

Wart treatment at 1Aesthetics

Leaving a wart untreated can have several risks and consequences, including the potential for spread, pain, secondary infections, cosmetic concerns, and interference with daily function. 

Professional wart removal is often the best course of action, and in Singapore, 1Aesthetics offers a range of treatments. For those who worry about warts growing back or leaving scars after treatment, you can consider methods that minimise damage to the surrounding tissue. 

Ultrapulse CO2 and high-frequency radiofrequency techniques do this by precisely destroying and removing infected cells, while combined lasers lower the risk of recurrence and scarring.

Our experienced team of medical professionals understand the importance of addressing warts promptly to prevent complications and restore your comfort and confidence. Book a consultation today.


  1. Sara Garcia Oreja, Francisco Javier Alvaro-Alfonso. (2020). Topical treatment for plantar warts: A systematic review. Dermatologic Therapy.

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