Warts are small growths on the skin that normally don’t cause pain. Some warts itch and may hurt, especially if they’re on your feet. There are five kinds of warts:
Warts are a type of infection caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Warts can grow on all parts of your body. They can grow on your skin, on the inside of your mouth, on your genitals and on your rectal area. Common types of HPV tend to cause warts on the skin (such as the hands and fingers), while other HPV types tend to cause warts on the genitals and rectal area. Some people are more naturally resistant to the HPV viruses and don't seem to get warts as easily as other people.
Yes, warts on the skin may be passed to another person when that person touches the warts. It is also possible to get warts from using towels or other objects that were used by a person who has warts.
Warts on the genitals are very contagious and can be passed to another person during oral, vaginal or anal sex. It is important not to have unprotected sex if you or your partner has warts on the genital area. In women, warts can grow on the cervix (inside the vagina), and a woman may not even know she has them. She may pass the infection to her sexual partner without knowing it.
Often warts disappear on their own, although it may take many months or even years for the warts to go away. But some warts won't go away on their own. Doctors are not sure why some warts disappear and others do not.
Generally, yes. Common warts are often bothersome. They can bleed and cause pain when they're bumped. They can also be embarrassing, for example, if they grow on your face. Treatment may decrease the chance that the warts will be spread to other areas of your body or to other people.
First of all, it's important to know that warts on the skin (such as on the fingers, feet and knees) and warts on the genitals are removed in different ways. Don't try any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs to remove warts on the genital area. You could hurt your genital area by putting certain chemicals on it. You also shouldn't treat warts on your face without talking to your doctor first. The following are some ways to remove common warts from the skin:
Talk to your doctor about which treatment is right for you.
Cryosurgery is a 2-step process that removes the wart without hurting the skin around it.
The first step is getting your wart ready to be removed. You can help with this step. The second step is freezing the wart, which will be done by your doctor in his or her office. You may need to have several freezing treatments before the wart is completely removed.
You must do some things on your own at home to get the wart ready for removal. Doing these things before you come to your doctor's office can reduce the number of freezing treatments you need. You should do the following:
After 2 weeks of this treatment, your wart will have turned white and will look fluffy. Your doctor will then be able to remove the white skin layer covering the wart and use cryosurgery to freeze the base (root) of the wart. If your skin reacts strongly to cold, tell your doctor before cryosurgery.
Cryosurgery can be uncomfortable, but it usually isn't too painful. The freezing is somewhat numbing. When your doctor places the instrument on your skin to freeze the wart, it will feel like an ice cube is stuck to your skin. Afterward, you may feel a burning sensation as your skin thaws out.
Healing after cryosurgery usually doesn't take long. You will probably be able to enjoy all your usual activities while you heal, including bathing or showering. Cryosurgery leaves little or no scar. After the area has healed, the treated skin may be a bit lighter in color than the skin around it.
Genital warts must be treated by your doctor. Warts in the genital area can be removed, but there's no cure for the viral infection that causes the warts. This means that the warts may come back even after they have been removed.
Most of the time, treatment of warts on the skin is successful and the warts are gone for good. Your body's immune system can usually get rid of any tiny bits of wart that may be left after a wart has been treated. Genital warts are more likely to come back because there's no cure for the virus that causes them and because warts are more difficult to control in a moist environment. If warts come back, see your doctor to talk about other ways to treat them.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff