Warts | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes 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.

Can warts be passed from one person to another person?

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.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/93

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