Warts are skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They’re relatively frequent, especially among school-aged kids. Warts can spread to other parts of the body or others through direct contact. Unless they appear on the soles of the feet, they are painless.
Warts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Where they are on a person’s body can be used to describe them:
- Common Warts — Verruca Vulgaris (or common warts) can occur anywhere on dry skin. However, they are most typically found on the hands. They may appear in groups.
- Flat Warts — These commonly appear on the face or the legs. They’re smaller and can be hard to spot.
- Plantar Warts — The soles of the feet are home to plantar warts (foot warts). They are pushed further into the tissues by the body’s weight, which can be unpleasant.
Causes of Warts
The HPV virus is widespread. Most people exposed to the virus do not develop warts because their immune system quickly recognizes it and attacks before a wart growth can start. However, once infected with HPV, some of these cells will reproduce more rapidly than surrounding skin, creating small bumps where they become thicker and often colored differently than other parts of the skin.
After an infection with the virus, the growths can take up to a year to form.
The body’s immune system eventually recognizes the virus as alien and begins to attack the underlying infection, making warts disappear. Children’s warts generally heal on their own after a couple years, whereas adults’ warts take 5 to 7 years to recover.
Treatment for Warts
Individuals who have warts may find that they fade away without treatment. To eradicate warts more quickly, you can try an over-the-counter medication, or consult a dermatologist for medical treatment.
Warts tend to reappear, often requiring additional treatment.