Warts Overview

Welcome to Warts Resource, the one stop site for everything warts. This site provides information and answers to common warts questions. There are links to relevant warts topics in the sidebars and within the text below.

What Are Warts?

Warts are benign skin growths that can appear anywhere on the body. These small bumps are caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV. There are over 100 different strains of HPV which can produce warts on different areas of the body. This very contagious virus enters the body through a small crack in the skin surface. HPV will cause the cells on the top layer of skin to reproduce quickly, forming warts.

How Are Warts Diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose a bump on the skin as a wart by examining it. He will take note of the texture, shape and location of the bump to aid him in diagnosis. In rare cases, a suspected wart may be removed for biopsy. The doctor will cut off the wart with a sharp instrument and send it to the lab to be examined under a microscope. A lab will be able to provide a detailed analysis of the sample to determine if it is indeed a wart.

Types of Warts

There are generally seven kinds of warts. Plantar Warts, Seed Warts, Common Warts, Filiform Warts, Periungal Warts, Flat Warts and Genital Warts. There are other off shoots of warts, but they are related to the six mentioned warts.

Where Do Warts Appear?

Each of these six kinds of warts looks different and will appear on different parts of the body. Common warts are usually found on the hands, fingers and sometimes knees or elbows. Plantar warts are found on the bottom of the feet, particularly the heels or balls of the feet. Flat warts are warts that have a flat surface. These warts can be found almost anywhere on the body and they can cover a large area of skin.

Periungual warts resemble common warts but they are found around the nails of the feet or hands. Filiform warts are warts that protrude from the skin on a single long stalk of flesh and are commonly found on the face. Genital warts appear on and near the genital area.

How Are Warts Spread?

The American Academy of Dermatology1 says anyone can get warts. However, there are some individuals who are more susceptible to warts than others. Children and teenagers seem to get warts more often than adults. Individuals who bite their nails or pick at hangnails have a high risk for warts. Those who have a weakened immune system are at a high risk for developing warts because the body cannot fight off HPV.

Warts are easily spread from person to person. The HPV virus is highly contagious and can even live on hard, non-porous surfaces for days. Warts are spread by touching someone who has them. They can also be spread by touching an object that has been touched by someone who carries HPV. It can take several weeks to a few months for warts to grow large enough to be seen or felt.

Can Warts Be Cured?

There is no cure for HPV. However, the body’s immune system will get rid of this virus after a few months or a few years. As long as the virus resides in the body, the risk for developing warts will always be present.

In most cases, warts will go away on their own. However, if the warts become large, cause pain or they are in a prominent location, they can be removed.

Wart Treatment

There are several home remedies you can try to remove warts such as duct tap wart removal or the increasing popular types of over the counter wart remover creams and gels.

The most common medical treatment for warts on the hands is cryotherapy or freezing the wart. This method is not too painful, but it can cause dark spots on dark-skinned individuals. Electrosurgery is another method of wart removal that involves burning the wart away.

If warts are highly resistant to these common treatments, the doctor may need to use a laser to get rid of the warts. If there are a lot of flat warts, the doctor may use a chemical peel to remove them. However, it is a good idea to remember that warts can always re-appear after they have been removed. Sometimes they will appear in the same spot, or they may appear on a different area of the body.

You can find more detailed explanations on the different treatments and other wart topics by following the relevant links in the sidebar.


1 – American Academy of Dermatology