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Facts on Warts

  • Warts are small harmless tumors of the skin caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus.
  • The appearance of warts can differ based on the type of wart and where it is located on the body.
  • Most warts are well defined, with skin thickening.
  • Very few go on to develop hyperplasia or malignancy (found most often with genital warts).
  • The focus of this article is nongenital warts; when people want information about "warts," most commonly they mean nongenital warts.
    • Warts are common in children.
    • Most cases occur between ages 12-16 years.
    • Some warts disappear by themselves within six months.
    • Most will disappear without any treatment within three years.

Wart Causes

Warts are caused by the DNA-containing human papillomavirus (HPV). There are at least 100 genetically different types of HPVs.

  • The virus enters the skin after direct contact with recently shed viruses kept alive in warm, moist environments such as a locker room, or by direct contact with an infected person. The entry site is often an area of recent skin injury. The incubation time (from when the virus is contracted until a wart appears) can be one to eight months.
  • Contrary to popular mythology, touching a frog will not give a person warts.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Warts:

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Warts, Nongenital »

Warts are benign proliferations of skin and mucosa caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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