Q: What causes warts?

A. Warts are caused by direct contact with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is contagious. HPV might spread by person-to-person contact or through direct contact with an object used by a person with the virus. The virus that causes warts also can spread to other places on the body of the person with warts.

Q: What are the symptoms of warts?

A. Warts appear as small, grainy bumps that are rough to the touch. Most warts are flesh-colored, tan, pink, or white. Warts sometimes contain small black dots that are tiny, clotted blood vessels.

Q: Can warts be prevented?

A. If you already have warts, you can prevent them from spreading by not picking at them. Consider covering warts with bandages. In addition, keep your hands as dry as possible—warts are harder to control in moist environments. You should never brush, comb, or shave areas where warts are present, as the virus can be spread via these actions. You should wash your hands thoroughly after you touch any warts.

To prevent genital warts, some of the steps you can take include:

  • Not having sex
  • Using condoms during sexual activity
  • Having sex only with a partner who is not having sex with other people
  • Avoiding sex with anyone who has visible symptoms of genital warts