Warts may appear on different parts of the body including the hands, feet, arms, legs, face and other areas. Warts may differ in appearance depending on the type of wart and its location. Treatment may also vary depending on the location of the wart and how many warts are present. Understanding warts and what causes them is important in preventing the skin condition.

Myths About Warts

One of the most common myths about warts, and one you likely heard as a child, is that they may be caused by toads. This is completely false. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This affects the top layer of skin, causing skin growths that turn into warts. Toads do not carry HPV.

Another common myth is that warts have roots. This is also false. Warts only grow on the top layer of skin. Warts that grow deeper displace the dermis instead of growing into it.

Facts About Warts

There is no cure for warts. Most warts go away on their own within a few months or years, but the condition is not cured. Certain treatments may provide relief and may be helpful in removing warts.

Cervical cancer may be caused by two types of HPV, which may also cause genital warts. In fact, these two types of HPV cause most cases of cervical cancer. Women are encouraged to get a pap smear regularly to screen for and detect cervical cancer. (There are over 100 known types of HPV.)

Warts are contagious, despite what some people may have told you. HPV may be spread from one individual to another simply by coming into contact with the virus. Small abrasions, cuts or other openings in the skin may leave the skin susceptible to HPV. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and socks with others, and avoid walking barefoot across locker room floors or other warm, damp public areas.

Even if a person does not have visible warts but carries the virus, they may still spread the virus to others. Genital warts are particularly contagious, so patients should take extra precautions in avoiding genital warts. Simply asking sexual partners if they have sexually transmitted diseases and practicing safe sex can go a long way in preventing genital warts.

Individuals are encouraged to speak with a healthcare professional for more information about preventing HPV and warts. Some individuals may be at greater risk of developing warts than others, but by boosting one's immune system, quitting smoking and practicing other healthy lifestyle habits, individuals may improve their resistance to the virus.