Simply put, warts are skin infections. They're a type of benign tumor that forms on the top layer of skin caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus (a virus that causes abnormal tissue growth).
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People of all age have the possibility of developing warts, but children and young adults are the main victims because of their frequent contact with others. Warts can occur on all parts of the body, but are commonly found on the fingers, hands, and feet and inside of the mouth, on and around the genitals and the rectal area.
Due to the different areas where warts appear, there are four major types of warts:
- Common Warts - these appear on the fingers, hands, knees and elbows
- Flat Warts - that appear on the face, arms, knees and hands
- Plantar Warts - that embed themselves in the bottom of the foot
- Filiform Warts - that develop around the mouth, eyes and nose
A wart is a small, solid bump that's typically the size and shape of a bean and is light gray or brown in color. The majority of warts are painless and relatively harmless. However, if your wart bleeds it will cause quite a bit of soreness.
The main danger that warts present is that they are contagious. The virus that a wart contains can spread to another person through direct physical contact. This includes touching the wart directly with your skin or using an infected person's towel, sheets or wearing their clothing.
Normally, a wart will disappear on its own in a few weeks. However, sometimes it can take six months to several years to get rid of a wart without treatment. Certain over-the-counter remedies that kill the wart virus are effective to treat most warts. However, if you suffer from a planter wart it may become painful to walk or stand on for long periods of time. In cases like this, having your wart removed by a doctor is an option.