Risk Factors for Developing Warts

Warts are caused by contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). The top layer of skin is affected as a skin growth begins to appear that turns into a wart. Treatment is available that has been shown to be effective in removing warts, although most go away on their own within several months or years.


As people age, their chances of developing warts decreases in most cases. This may be due to the creation of antibodies against HPV over time. Warts are most common in children or young adults who do not have as many antibodies to fight HPV.

Most sexually active adults have been exposed to HPV at some point in their life and should have created antibodies to fight the virus.

Immune System

The immune system fights off viruses such as HPV with antibodies, so an impaired immune system may leave one susceptible to HPV, which may lead to warts.

Environmental Risks

HPV and other viruses thrive in warm, damp places such as locker rooms and public pool areas. Individuals should avoid walking across these areas barefoot. College students who share a communal shower should take the proper precautions to avoid contact with HPV. Wearing shower shoes and replacing them regularly is often helpful in avoiding warts as well as other viruses or bacteria.

HPV is spread when the virus enters the skin through even the smallest abrasions or cuts. Cover up any open wounds or abrasions and avoid touching your own or others' warts. Also, if you get a wart, covering it helps to avoid spreading it to others or to other areas of your own body.

Biting your nails, wearing shoes that cause sweaty feet and sharing personal items such as towels, razors, socks and shoes are other controllable factors that may increase the risk of HPV and warts.

Patients should also talk to their doctor about avoiding genital warts. Taking the proper precautions before sexual activity may go a long way in preventing the spread of the HPV. Asking sexual partners about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may be helpful, but as some may lie about their STDs, always practice safe sex.

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