Warts are small, non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. These common lesions generally take two to six months to develop on the skin.
There are over 100 viruses in the HPV family, and each of them can result in different types of warts, including:
- Common Warts: These warts usually grow on the fingers and hands. They are flesh-colored growths that feel like rough and grainy bumps on the skin.
- Plantar Warts: Often confused with calluses, these warts feel like they are growing inside the skin. They are often found on the soles of the feet.
- Flat Warts: These smaller and flatter warts often appear on the face, lower legs and hands. Flat warts usually grow in large numbers across the skin.
- Filiform Warts: These warts have a spiky, thread-like appearance, and they typically grow on the eyelids and lips.
- Genital Warts: These sexually transmitted warts grow on the genitals. They have a cauliflower-like appearance and are often flesh-colored.
Because warts are contagious, they can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with other people who have them. Other causes of warts are:
- Swimming in public pools
- Skin injuries
- Sink infections that open the skin's surface
- Sweating heavily on the hands and feet (hyperhidrosis)
- Frequently wet hands
It's important to note that shaving or scratching warts can lead to infection in other parts of the body. While warts can disappear on their own, they could take years to go away. Therefore, it is not recommended to leave a wart untreated for long.
Warts are generally harmless from a health perspective, but most people find them embarrassing and uncomfortable and choose to seek treatment.