Generally, warts will not be harmful to your health, though they may grow or spread. Warts are normally considered to be a cosmetic problem unless they cause issues similar to those listed in 'Diagnosis'.
Warts are caused by an infection of certain strains of HPV, the human papilloma virus. The virus can sometimes be spread by direct contact, but warts are generally considered not to be that contagious. Indeed, some people seem to be immune to the virus, for reasons that are unclear.
You are more likely to catch HPV, leading to a wart or verruca, if the area of skin is wet or damaged.
HPV can also be acquired indirectly by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces (such as a shower or the side of a swimming pool) or by using contaminated objects.
After coming into contact with the virus, it may take up to a few months for the wart or verruca to be visible.
You can avoid the spread of warts or verrucas to other parts of your body by:
Genital warts tend to involve different strains of HPV than those that cause other warts. They are mainly transmitted during sexual contact. You should go to a sexual health clinic if you think that you have genital warts so that you can receive the appropriate diagnosis treatment.
Once you have had your initial outbreak of genital warts diagnosed, you can treat recurrent outbreaks using our Genital Warts section. The treatment for genital warts is different than for other warts, you should not use the standard pharmacy wart treatments.
You may notice small black dots in your skin wart. These are especially common in verrucas. These are blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients from the blood to the wart. They are nothing to worry about and do not offer any indication of the seriousness of your wart/verruca.
If you have taken precautions to avoid the spread of HPV, you are fine to go swimming. Such precautions might include:
If you treat your wart or verruca, you should expect to wait at least two weeks until you see improvements. In some cases, warts can remain for up to three months.
If you do not treat your wart or verruca, they will usually disappear on their own. This can take up to two years.
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