What are warts?

Warts are an infection of the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus enters the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut. It then forms a rough bump on the surface of the skin. Warts are benign (non-cancerous) growths.

Who gets warts?

Anyone can get warts, but they are more common among children because of their frequent scrapes and cuts. People with a weakened immune system, such as the elderly and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, are also more likely to get warts.

How does a person get a wart?

Warts are very contagious. They are easily spread from one person to another through direct contact with a wart, or with something – such as a locker room floor or a towel – that has been in contact with a wart. They can spread to different parts of the body by nail biting or shaving.

Where do warts typically appear?

Common warts frequently occur on the hands.

Warts that occur on the sole of the foot (plantar surface) are called plantar warts. They are most common on the parts of the sole that receive pressure when standing or walking. Because of this pressure, plantar warts are often flat or grow inward. Plantar warts can appear alone or in a cluster (mosaic warts). They tend to grow slowly and can eventually sink deep enough into the skin to cause discomfort or pain.

Flat warts are smaller and smoother than other types of warts and can occur anywhere.

What are the symptoms of warts?

Plantar warts are the most common type to cause symptoms because of their location. People who get plantar warts may feel as if they have a stone in their shoe. Because of their flat appearance and location on the bottom of the foot, plantar warts are frequently mistaken for calluses. Like calluses, plantar warts have tough, thick skin. However, unlike calluses, a plantar wart is painful when squeezed. A plantar wart may also have black dots on its surface. These dots are from the dilated (enlarged) blood vessels in the wart.