WartsWhat are warts?

Warts are non-cancerous skin growths that appear when a virus infects the skin. The viruses that cause these warts are called the human papillomavirus (HPV).

What causes warts?

The HPV virus is often passed between people or from the environment when you have a cut or a scrape. Warts can grow anywhere on a human, but they are most common in areas that a prone to getting scrapes (like the feet, hands, and knees). Warts can also be spread through nail biting and touching. Some warts can also be spread through sex.

What are the different types of warts?

There are a few different types of warts. Here are some of the more common types of warts with a description of their traits:

Common Warts: These warts grow mostly on the fingers and hands. They are more common where the skin has been broken from fingernail biting or cuts. Sometimes, they have little black dots that look like seeds on them.

• Foot Warts (Plantar Warts): These often grow on the soles of the feet and are hard to treat. They sometimes grow in clusters and patients describe it as walking with pebbles in your shoe. 

Genital Warts: These warts are found near or on the genitals and can be spread through sexual contact.

Filiform Warts: These warts look like threads or thin fingers that extend out. They often grow quickly around the mouth, nose, and eyes.

Flat Warts: Flat warts are smaller and smoother than other warts and they tend to grow in large numbers. 

Is there a cure for the wart virus?

At this time, there is no cure for the wart virus. That means warts can reappear even after you get them removed. Thankfully though, most warts go away on their own within two years. 

When should I see a doctor about a wart?

Most warts are harmless, but some warts can be indicative of other problems. See a dermatologist (skin doctor) when you have:

• a skin growth that is not a wart (it might be skin cancer)
• a wart on your face or genitals
• a painful wart or warts
• a change in the color or appearance of your wart
• warts that itch, burn, or bleed
• a weakened immune system (like HIV)

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American Academy of Dermatology. "Warts." Warts. National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides. <https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/u---w/warts>.

"Warts: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000885.htm>.