Warts

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Wart facts

  • Warts are local growths in the skin that are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They should be distinguished from sexually transmitted (genital) warts, which are caused by other HPV types.
  • Types of warts include common warts, flat warts, plantar warts, periungual warts, and filiform warts.
  • Warts typically disappear on their own with time, but it may take years.
  • Warts respond variably to treatment measures.
  • Over-the-counter treatments for warts include salicylic-acid preparations and freezing kits.
  • Warts may recur following treatment.

What are warts?

Warts are local growths in the skin that are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. There are over 100 types of HPVs. Some HPV types infect the genital tract, producing genital warts and cancers in these areas. Other, different HPV types are responsible for common skin warts and are not associated with cancer. Although warts are considered to be contagious, it is common for just one family member to have them. In addition, they often affect just one part of the body (such as the hands or the feet), but they can be spread to other areas by picking them.

What are some types of warts?

  • There is the familiar type of dome-shaped warts on the backs of fingers, toes, and knees.
  • Plantar warts are found on the sole (plantar surface) of the foot (not to be mislabeled as a Planter's wart).
  • Flat ("plane") warts may arise on the face, legs, and other parts of the body, often in large numbers.
  • Periungual warts are warts around or under the nail.
  • Filiform warts typically appear as a single long stalk, often on the face.
Picture of a common wart
Picture of a common wart
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Warts - Effective Treatments Question: Which wart treatments have been effective for you?
Warts - Experiences Question: Please describe your experience with common warts.
Warts - OTC Treatments Question: Have you tried OTC treatments for warts? Please share your experience.
Warts - Seeing a Doctor Question: Why did you go to a doctor for wart removal? Was it successful? Please discuss your experience.
There are over 100 types of human papillomaviruses; some cause venereal warts, while others cause common skin warts.

Warts -- A Common Infectious Disease

The warts commonly seen on the skin are caused by a viral infection. The culprit is one of the HPVs (human papillomaviruses) that can be spread from person to person or be acquiredthrough contact with a contaminated surface.