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.
Overview, Causes, & 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.
Pictures & ImagesWarts, multiple – on hands
Warts are a very common skin condition. They frequently appear as single lesions or in small groups. This is a photograph of an unusually severe and extensive case of warts. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)Warts, flat on the cheek and neck
Warts may occur on any area of the body. These are typical looking warts on the face.Wart
Warts are small, usually painless growths on the skin caused by a virus. The typical wart is a raised round or oval growth on the skin with a rough surface. Common warts tend to cause no discomfort unless they are in areas of repeated friction or pressure. Warts often go away on their own within two yearsSubungual wart
Subungual warts appear under and around the fingernails. These warts are similar to the common wart but are much more difficult to cure than warts found elsewhere on the body.
Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet. Because of their location, they can become extremely painful. Large numbers of plantar warts on the foot may cause difficulty when running and even walking.Wart (verruca) with a cutaneous horn on the toe
This person has a wart (verruca) that has built up a cutaneous horn which is made up of hard keratin. This does not slough-off like normal skin cells.Wart (close-up)
A common wart. A circular bandage.
Review Date : 12/11/2009
Reviewed By : Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.