Warts are skin growths caused by an infection with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Warts are usually small, rough bumps. They can be skin-colored, white, pink, brown, or gray, often with tiny black spots or specks inside them. Warts can affect any area of the body, but are most common on the hands and feet. Although most warts are painless, those on the soles of the feet (plantar warts) can be painful and cause a feeling like walking on a small stone.
Warts are very common among school-age kids and many go away without treatment. When treatment is used, it may involve applying a wart medicine at home or a doctor removing the wart using treatments like chemicals, freezing, burning, injections, minor surgery, or laser surgery. Treated or not, warts sometimes reappear.
Someone with a wart should not rub, scratch, or pick at the wart, which could spread the infection to another part of the body.
Warts are contagious. Washing hands and the infected area regularly can help, and it's important not to share towels. People with warts on their feet should wear waterproof sandals or flip-flops in public showers, locker rooms, and areas around public pools. Continuing these habits after the wart goes away can help prevent reinfection.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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