wart develops when a
human papillomavirus (HPV) infects the outer layer of
skin and causes the skin cells to grow rapidly. The virus can then spread from
an existing wart to other areas of the body, causing more warts. Various types
of this virus thrive in warm, damp environments such as showers, locker room
floors, and swimming pool areas.
You are most likely to develop a
wart where you have broken skin, such as a cut, a hangnail, a closely bitten nail,
or a scrape. Plantar warts are common in swimmers whose feet are not only damp
and softened but are also scratched and broken by rough pool surfaces. Common
warts are often seen among those who handle meat, chicken, and fish.
How are warts spread?
Warts are easily spread by
direct contact with a human papillomavirus. You can reinfect yourself by
touching the wart and then touching another part of your body. You can infect others by
sharing towels, razors, or other personal items. After exposure to a human
papillomavirus, it can take many months of slow growth beneath the skin
before you notice a wart.
It is unlikely
that you will develop a wart every time you are exposed to a human
papillomavirus. Some people are more likely to develop warts than others.
Can common warts on hands or fingers be spread to the genitals and cause genital warts?
It depends. There are many types of HPV, and the types that cause common warts are usually different from those that cause plantar warts and genital warts. If the wart on a person's hand is caused by a type of HPV that can also cause genital warts, then there is a chance that skin contact could cause genital warts.
But common warts don't cause the type of genital warts that lead to high-risk cancers.