Glossary On What are Warts?

As described earlier, warts are small, non-cancerous growths on the skin that may vary in size, shape and color. Some warts present as small, flat and smooth lesions whereas some may appear as rough and hard growths on the skin. Warts are caused by a virus called human pappiloma virus (HPV). The human pappiloma virus causes the top layer of skin to grow rapidly, thereby giving rise to the formation of a wart.

Warts are generally skin colored though they can be darker or lighter than the skin color. The surface may be smooth or rough. The shapes may also vary significantly, some of the warts being flat, others being larger and fleshy and yet others being thin, long and cylindrical.

Although warts can occur on any part of the body, commonly affected areas include:

  • Hands
  • Feet (especially soles)
  • Genitals
  • Face and neck

Warts may occur one at a time or in clusters. They are usually painless though in case of affection of soles (plantar warts), pain may be an evident feature.

Children and young people are more prone to develop warts and being contagious in nature, they spread easily from one person to another. Warts also tend to spread easily from one part of the body to another in the same individual.

One of the common reasons why warts spread so easily is that people try to get rid of them by shaving them off or trying other means by which only part of the wart is removed. A half-removed wart of this kind is more prone to spread the virus to other parts of the body and to other people.

Warts often disappear by themselves within a few months or years but this may not be the case always. Some warts tend to be very stubborn and in spite of rigorous treatment, take long time to go.