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Warts are generally harmless skin growths. They are very common,
affecting around one in 10 children. Warts can come up
anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes (eg mouth, genitals)
however, most commonly on the hands, fingers, feet and
Warts can spread, usually due to direct contact with someone
with warts. Picking or scratching may lead to spread of warts on
the same person. You can also get them indirectly through swimming
pools or public showers especially if barefoot and you have
scratches or cuts.
Half of all warts will disappear within 2 years, but
this is not predictable. They can last longer in adults, or people
with immune system problems.
There are many different types of wart virus, and you may become
immune to one type, but develop warts due to another type. The
immunity is not lifelong.
Treatment depends on the age of the patient and the number and
location of the warts. No one treatment is guaranteed to work, and
many require a few attempts.
Developed by the Dept of Dermatology.
First published 2004. Updated November 2010.
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