Warts

  • Definition

    Warts are small, usually painless growths on the skin caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). They are generally harmless. However, warts can be disfiguring and embarrassing, and occasionally they itch or hurt (particularly on the feet).

    The different types of warts include:

    • Common warts usually appear on the hands, but can appear anywhere.
    • Flat warts are generally found on the face and forehead. They are common in children, less common in teens, and rare in adults.
    • Genital warts(condyloma) are usually found on the genitals, in the pubic area, and in the area between the thighs, but they can also appear inside the vagina and anal canal. (See: Genital warts for more information)
    • Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet.
    • Subungual and periungual warts appear under and around the fingernails or toenails.

    Alternative Names

    Plane juvenile warts; Periungual warts; Subungual warts; Plantar warts; Verruca; Verrucae planae juveniles; Filiform warts; Verruca vulgaris


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The typical wart is a raised round or oval growth on the skin with a rough surface. Compared with the surrounding normal skin, warts may appear light, dark, or black (rare). Most adults are familiar with the look of a typical wart and have little trouble recognizing it. Unusual warts with smooth surfaces or flat warts in children may be more difficult for parents to recognize.

    Common warts tend to cause no discomfort unless they are in areas of repeated friction or pressure. Plantar warts, for example, can become extremely painful. Large numbers of plantar warts on the foot may cause difficulty walking or running.

    Some warts will disappear without treatment, although it can sometimes take a couple of years. Treated or not, warts that go away often reappear. All warts can spread from one part of your own body to another.

    Unsightly or painful warts can be treated. Warts around and under your nails are much more difficult to cure than warts in other places.