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Most warts are harmless growths that will not affect your overall health. However, you may want warts removed if they are visible or on a part of your body where they are often bumped or injured.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes warts. There are many different types of this virus, and some affect only particular parts of the body. The virus is not particularly contagious, but when it comes in contact with an opening in the skin, it can take hold and begin to multiply.

Another common way warts are spread is through sexual contact. Warts caused by HPV strains (exact types of the virus) spread this way are called genital warts because they usually appear on and around the genitals and anus.

Warts grow because the body’s immune system takes a long time—often years—to recognize the HPV infection. Eventually the immune system does become sensitized (recognizes the virus) and attacks the strain of the virus that caused the wart. When this happens the wart gradually goes away. Other warts caused by different strains of HPV may remain, however, and new warts can appear. Over time the same sensitization process eventually causes these warts to disappear as well.

Sometimes a wart is more than just a nuisance. It may be in a place where it is embarrassing or easily damaged. If a wart is in a sensitive area, it is important to have a specialist who knows how to treat it effectively without damaging surrounding tissue. Indiana University Health dermatologists have extensive experience treating and removing warts without harming surrounding tissue. Your dermatologist is also skilled in helping you understand your treatment options. We can help you make the decision that is best for you.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Warts Treatment Information

Removal is not always the best approach to warts. They often fade on their own as the body’s immune system becomes sensitive to the particular strain (exact type) of human papilloma virus (HPV) causing them. If you choose to have a wart removed, HPV may remain in your skin even after removal, so the wart may return. Before getting a wart removed, consider that removal may leave a permanent scar. Sometimes it is best to let the infection run its course and fade away on its own.

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription creams can destroy warts over time. We also have procedures we can do to remove warts in an office visit:

Unlike most warts, which do not lead to other health problems, genital warts are a special case. These warts are in sensitive areas (the genitals, anus and sometimes the mouth and throat). Some of the strains of HPV that cause genital warts can cause cervical or anal cancer. Careful treatment reduces or eliminates the appearance of genital warts, but cannot cure the underlying HPV infection. A vaccine has been developed for some strains of HPV that can cause cancers, such as cervical, anal and oral cancer, and warts. This vaccine prevents infection by these strains and has reduced the incidence of HPV-related cancers and genital warts. 

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Warts Support Services