Warts are benign (not cancerous) skin growths that appear when a virus infects the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way.
Wart viruses are contagious. Warts can spread by contact with the wart or something that touched the wart.
Warts can grow on any part of your body.
Warts are often skin-colored and feel rough, but they can be dark (brown or gray-black), flat, and smooth.
There are a few different types of warts. The type is determined by where it grows on the body and what it looks like. The following describes the signs (what a person sees) and symptoms (what a person feels) for some of the different types of warts.
(also called vurruca vulgaris)
If you see a wart on your child's face, check your child's hands for warts. The virus that causes warts can spread from the hands to the face through touch or nail biting.
also called plantar warts
Plantar warts have these traits:
Flat warts have these traits:
Filiform warts have these traits:
HIV weakens the immune system, so the body often cannot fight the virus that causes the warts.
Who gets warts?
Anyone can get warts. Some people are more prone to getting a wart virus (HPV) than others. These people are:
In children, warts often go away without treatment. A dermatologist should treat warts that hurt, bother the child, or quickly multiply.
What causes warts?
Viruses called human papillomavirus (HPV) cause warts. It is easier to catch a virus that causes warts when you have a cut or scrape on your skin. This explains why so many children get warts. Warts also are more common on parts of the body that people shave such as the beard area in men and the legs in women. You can spread warts from one place on your body to another.
Warts can spread from person to person. You can get warts from touching a wart on someone’s body. Some people get a wart after touching something that another person’s wart touched, such as a towel. It often takes a few months for warts to grow large enough to see.
Warts can often be treated at home. The following explains when you can safely treat warts at home and when you should see a dermatologist.
You can get some wart remedies without a prescription and treat the warts yourself. This may be enough to get rid of the warts. The only problem with self-treatment is that you might mistake another kind of skin growth for a wart. Some skin cancers look like warts.
You should see a dermatologist when you have:
You can use the following at home:
Ask your dermatologist if you are unsure about the best way to treat a wart.
To prevent warts from spreading, dermatologists recommend the following: