Viral Warts

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
A young boy sucks a finger with a wart on it.

While having warts can be annoying—even embarrassing—they are often treatable and not harmful. 

Common warts, flat warts, and plantar warts are viral infections of the skin (most originating from the human papillomavirus or HPV family, but not the strains associated with cancer).

“Viruses like to infect through cuts in the skin,” says Yale Medicine dermatologist Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD. “Picking of the warts (or biting them) can lead to spread of the virus, including around the mouths of kids.” 

Two common locations for warts in both kids and adults are the hands and feet. Palmar (hand) and plantar (feet) warts can prove very difficult to get rid of. “There are many treatments available, from over the counter to prescription, but perhaps the most important key is consistent attack against the wart until it is resolved,” says Dr. Bunick.

Ultimately, warts are benign. “They can be a nuisance, occasionally cause discomfort, and often people don’t like the way they look, but in the end they are not harmful,” he says.