Warts

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Wart facts

  • Warts are small, self-limited tumors caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
  • 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 a variety of treatment measures.
  • Over-the-counter treatments for warts include salicylic-acid preparations and freezing kits.
  • Warts may recur following treatment.

What are warts? Are warts contagious?

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 and oral mucosa and produce large, unpleasant masses, some of which may become cancerous. Other, HPV types are responsible for common skin warts and are not associated with cancer. Although warts are considered to be contagious, it is not uncommon 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 the symptoms and signs of the different 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 have a single long stalk, often on the face.
Picture of a common wart
Picture of a common wart
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2015

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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.

Picture of Warts