What causes warts?

Warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by the papillomavirus. Warts are more common in children than adults, although they can develop at any age, and can spread to other parts of the body and to other people.

There are many different types of warts (more than 100) and aren't usually painful, except when located on the feet.


Specific treatment for warts will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the growths
  • Extent of the growths
  • Your opinion or preference

Warts often disappear without treatment. Treatment of warts depends on several factors, including:

  • Length of time on the skin
  • Location
  • Type
  • Severity

Treatment may include:

  • Application of salicylic and lactic acid (to soften the infected area)
  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Electrodesiccation (to destroy the wart with an electrical current)
  • Prescription creams, such as imiquimod