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Warts and HPV the Cause and Types

female with manicured nails placed on top of her bare feet billie-5OXE3KjDEfI-unsplash warts and hpv

Last updated 08/16/2023

Warts are a very common skin condition affecting 3 million plus every year in the United States. Further, most people are affected with them at some point in their life. Warts and HPV, here’s the scoop.

These growths are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Although they are noncancerous they can resemble some cancers.

Most importantly, warts are typically not painful and are a chief complaint in dermatologist offices. But having one on the bottom of your foot can be really inconvenient and hurt when pressure is applied. In addition, it can itch and bleed.

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What is a Wart?

Warts also known as verruca are small benign lumps revealed on your skin surface or mucus membrane. For instance, their appearance varies and can occur singularly or as clusters. The human papillomavirus causes this fleshy color and painless growth usually seen on the hands and feet.

And there are different kinds of warts. Certain types affect specific areas of the body. For example, verrucae are warts often shown on the soles of the feet.

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Warts, don’t Believe in Fairy Tales

There is no harm in touching or kissing all the toads you wish to. In other words, the amphibian won’t give you warts.

In conclusion, a wart on your nose or anywhere else on your face doesn’t mean you’re a witch either.

How Warts Form

The human papillomavirus causes a buildup of keratin, a hard protein. This forms in the top layer of your skin called the epidermis. In other words, this extra keratin creates that rough hard texture you feel and see as the wart.

Where is HPV Found?

There are more than 100 strains of HPV. Different strains can cause warts on other areas of your body. The skin of your hands and feet, like verruca vulgaris or verruca plantaris, are usually caused by HPV strains 1, 2, 4, 27, or 57.

Only cutaneous HPV affects your skin which causes common warts. HPV lives in thin, flat cells on your skin’s surface called epithelial cells. But genital warts are caused by mucosa HPV.

Mucosal HPV

Over 40 kinds of mucosal HPV are spread through direct sexual contact.

Mucosal HPV affects skin cells discovered on moist surface areas including:

  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Vulva
  • Anus
  • Inner foreskin and urethra of the penis

These types can also spread into the inner lining of the:

  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Windpipe (trachea)
  • And passageways to the lungs (bronchi)

HPV can lead to cancer. For this reason, it is further divided into two main types based on their risk.

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Low-risk HPV Types

Low-risk HPV types do not cause cancer. However, they can cause skin warts on or around the genitals and anus. For example, HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for 90 percent of all genital warts.

High-risk HPV Types

On the other hand, High-risk HPV is known to cause cancer. About 12 high-risk types have been acknowledged as well as 16 and 18, which are responsible for the majority of HPV-associated cancers.

Most importantly, the HPV vaccine can prevent infection. In turn this stops some diseases like HPV-related cancers. Because these forms of HPV are dangerous and spread through sexual contact, individuals should be vaccinated before becoming sexually active for best effectiveness.

Warts and HPV Risk

Your immune system’s response to the virus can be different from others. In short, each person who comes into contact with HPV will not get a wart. And if you cut or damage your skin somehow, it’s easier for the virus to enter.

For instance, those with chronic skin conditions like eczema are prone to warts. In addition, if you bite your nails or pick at hangnails warts easily develop.

Age also plays a factor as kids and teens are more susceptible. This is due to their immune systems haven’t built up defenses yet against varies forms of HPV.

Those with a weakened immune system like those with HIV or who are being treated with biologic drugs are at risk. These are for conditions such as RA, psoriasis and IBD. Thus, these groups are also more prone for developing warts because their body lacks the ability to fight them off.

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How Warts Spread

Warts and HPV are very contagious. The majority are passed by direct skin contact. For example, you pick at the wart and also touch another location on your body you pass the virus on.

Above all, you have a higher risk to become infected with wet or damaged skin. Warts thrive on skin that is moist and soft as well as injured skin. Likewise, if you have a cut or open wound it’s easier for the virus to get in your body. After that, it can be weeks or possibly months for the wart to show.

You can spread warts through wearing someone else’s shoes that has plantar warts. The infection can be spread through walking barefoot across floors in public changing areas or around public pools.

You can spread HPV to other body parts by:

  • Scratching
  • Biting the wart
  • Biting or sucking your finger with the wart on
  • Shaving your face or legs

These actions can cause your wart to breakup and bleed. This creates a way for the virus to easily spread. Likewise, having scratches or a cut on the soles of your feet forms you more vulnerable to verrucae.

Warts and HPV Stop the Spread

The virus responsible for warts, human papillomavirus, is easily spread from one person to another. Although there is no current prevention for warts, you can reduce the risk for you and your family.

Don’t Touch Warts

This goes for yours and others. HPV is contagious. That is to say, it’s possible for the virus to enter your system through a cut or scratch. After that, a wart develops.

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Everyone Should Have Their Own

Most importantly, every household member should have their own personal items.

This includes:

  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Razors
  • Nail clippers
  • Socks

If someone in your home has a wart, personal items aid with not spreading the virus to other family members.

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Avoid Shaving Over Your Wart

Micro tears can develop on your skin as you shave. By shaving on top of a wart, these micro tears occur in your wart as well as the skin that you shave. In short, you can spread the virus causing the warts from that wart to other areas you shave.

A man can notice new warts in his beard because he shaved across a wart and continued shaving his face. Likewise, a woman also shaves on top of a wart. After that, she shaves her legs. So, she could notice weeks later several warts developed on her legs.

If you shave over a wart and go on to shave your pubic hair, warts could occur in this area. Utilize disposable razors if possible.

Clean and Cover

For cuts and scrapes, clean and cover them. You can come into contact with HPV in unexpected places. And the virus can enter your body via a cut or scrape. To sum up, place a Band-Aid on these until scabbed.

Frequent Hand Washing

Washing your hands will assist removing the virus from your skin. So, you want to do this if you touch a wart anywhere. HPV is found in a lot of places and different surfaces.

Prevent Dry, Cracked Skin

When your skin barrier is either dry or cracked it’s easier for HPV to get in. In short, this can lead to a wart. Thus, do your best to moisturize your skin and keep it from getting dry.

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Nail Biting and Cuticle Chewing

Nail biting and cuticle chewing should be stopped. It only causes sores and tears in your skin that are very small to observe. Further, this provides an entrance for HPV to invade your body. Putting a cream that taste bad in these areas may help.

Flip Flops

Flip flops or water proof sandals should be a necessity in locker rooms, pool areas and public showers. Above all, any flooring that is wet and in contact with your skin can present an invite for the virus. That is to say, HPV thrives in warm, moist areas.

Shoes and flip flops aid to protect your feet from the virus. In conclusion, donning footwear on these occasions prevents plantar warts on your feet.

HPV Vaccine

Most importantly, the HPV vaccine supports protection from genital warts and certain cancers. These cancers could occur in the genital area. Therefore, it’s best to get vaccinated before exposure to the kinds of HPV leading to genital warts and genital cancers. Above all, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the vaccine for children.

Treat Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes excessive sweating. Frequent sweating creates damp and soft skin. In other words, this increases the risk of getting HPV infection that can lead to a wart.

hand reaching down to bare feet on top of rock jan-romero-DL4DDQb8yjc-unsplash wart and hpv

How Long do Warts Last?

It is thought that warts are contagious for the time they are present on your body. As time goes on, your body could build up a resistance and fight warts off. However, it could take months or even two years for them to go away. And with adults warts usually stay around longer, possibly several years or more.

Further, some warts will never disappear. Sorry to break this to you. Doctors have no understanding why some do, and others don’t vanish.

Wrapping it up

Warts are a common skin condition often seen in the dermatologist office. They are caused by the human papillomavirus which has many strains. Further, cutaneous growths are usually benign. However, certain strains of HPV affecting the genital area could lead to cancer.

Above all, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the HPV vaccine for children. Most importantly, get vaccinated before becoming sexually active in order to prevent getting genital warts.


Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

Researching content:  Visual Guide to Warts, WebMD, accessed 07/26/2023

About Warts and Verrucas, National Health inform in Scotland, accessed 07/26/2023 HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Overview, YaleMedicine, accessed 08/10/2023 HPV Infection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 08/10/2023 Common Warts Overview, Mayoclinic, accessed 07/26/2023  What Causes Warts and How Can You Get Rid of Them? Health, accessed 07/26/2023

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1 thought on “Warts and HPV the Cause and Types”

  1. questions is:
    What does human papillomavirus warts look like?
    HPV is the infection (virus) that leads to a wart. The three most usually seen are the common warts, plantar warts and flat warts. I have a picture of the common wart above.

    Under “Types of Warts” you will find a description along with the location the wart normally appears.
    Thanks for visiting!


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