What Are the Different Causes of Warts?

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  • Written By: Sandi Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Warts are abnormal, typically painless, growths on the skin. Each of the seven types of warts are all caused by viral infections. Know as human papillomaviruses (HPVs), this family of viruses includes more than 100 individual variations of viruses. In terms of the specific causes of warts, different types of HPV cause different types of warts. Since warts result from viral infections, they are contagious, meaning persons coming in primary or secondary contact with a present infection are susceptible to contracting the same kind of wart.

The seven types of warts are classified by where they typically appear on the body. Common warts appear on the hands, while plantar warts appear on the feet. Fingernails and toenails are susceptible to warts known as subungual and periungual, respectively. Condyloma, or genital warts, appear in the area of the groin, including genitalia, the pubic area, and along the inner thighs. Flat warts typically appear in the facial area, although filiform warts are more common around the nose, eyes, or mouth.


While all warts are caused by a virus, the specific HPV associated with the causes of warts in certain areas differs. Likewise, the treatment and prognosis of different warts varies. Certain HPVs linked to the causes of warts on the hands or face, for example, are easily treated topically with over-the-counter remedies or by simply ignoring the wart and allowing the immune system to do its job. Seldom does the specific infection recur, although some individuals are more susceptible than others to reinfection from new viral exposure. Only unresponsive or overly large common warts require treatment by a medical professional.

Alternatively, the HPVs linked to warts in the genital area require treatment from a physician or other medical professional. Although a physician can remove such warts, the underlying viral infection remains in the body. As such, genital warts can continue to recur after each removal. Moisture associated with the area affected and the lack of an available cure for the virus contribute to outbreaks.

Among the numerous viral causes of warts, there is little that can protect against infection. Reducing nail-biting or other habits that create openings for invading viruses can reduce susceptibility. Additionally, good hygiene like frequent hand washing can also reduce the risk of contracting an HPV that causes warts. Safe sex practices can reduce exposure to the HPV variants known to cause the viral infections associated with genital warts.


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Post 3

I used to get common warts on my hands and arms as a child. I didn't know that they were caused by a virus until I was much older.

I remember wondering where they came from because there was a myth then that warts are caused by frogs. I had never touched a frog so I would wonder how I got them in the first place.

Now I know that common warts are caused by a type of HPV. Apparently, most of us carry some type of HPV on our skin but not everyone gets warts from them. People with weaker immune system are more likely to get them. That's probably why I had them when I was a child and then they disappeared when I got older.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- Of course, they're not all caused by HPV. Herpes type 2 is the other major cause of genital warts. Even herpes type 1 can pass to the genital area during oral sex and cause warts. But this is kind of rare.

Some other STDs can cause blisters and warts on the genitals. So it can be very difficult to tell the cause just by looking at them. The only way to know the cause of warts is to have a doctor take a swab from a wart and test it in the lab.

But one thing can be said about genital warts, they're always caused by a virus, not bacteria. This applies to all warts actually.

Post 1

What are different causes for warts in the genital area? Are they all caused by HPV?

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