Warts are one of the most common skin complaints and routinely misunderstood. Skin warts can be found on all parts of the body but most commonly on the soles of feet, the hands and the face. Children and young adults are most likely to develop warts, although it’s possible to have warts at any age.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) causes warts. The virus affects everyone differently, and exposure to HPV doesn’t mean a person will develop warts. Warts may appear as a bumpy or hard piece of skin that is commonly flesh-colored or brown. While most warts are harmless, HPV is contagious and can be spread with direct contact either with skin-to-skin contact or using infected items such as towels or shared public bathing facilities such as locker room showers.
“Children are more likely to develop warts due to repeated exposures are school and when playing with friends. Warts are considered modestly contagious,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Disease said.
Treatment for warts depends on the type of wart and place on the body. Visiting with a healthcare provider will help determine treatment. Some warts may disappear over time and not require treatment. Other warts, like plantar warts on the bottom of feet, may cause discomfort and need to be treated or removed. Treatments vary from over-the-counter medication to doctor administered liquid nitrogen to surgery to remove the wart.
“Warts may go away on their own, and over-the-counter remedies occasionally work,” Dowell said. “The larger the wart or the longer is has been present, the more likely that over-the-counter medications with not be successful.”