Warts and verrucas - Causes 

Causes of warts and verrucas 

Warts are caused by certain strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus is present in the skin cells of a wart.

HPV is a family of viruses that affects the skin and moist membranes (mucosa) of the body.

There are more than 100 different strains of HPV. Different strains are responsible for different types of warts.

Spreading the virus

HPV is passed on through close skin-to-skin contact. It can also be transmitted indirectly by contact with contaminated objects, such as towels, shoes, areas surrounding swimming pools, or the floors of communal changing areas.

Warts are thought to be contagious for as long as they are present on your body. The virus is more likely to spread if the skin is wet, soft or has been in contact with a rough surface.

Warts can also be spread to other parts of your own body. You can spread the virus if you:

  • scratch, knock or bite a wart
  • bite your nails or suck your fingers (if they have warts on them)
  • shave your face or legs

This can cause the wart to break up and bleed, making it easier for the virus to spread. You are more vulnerable to verrucas if you have scratches or cuts on the soles of your feet.

Page last reviewed: 11/09/2014

Next review due: 11/09/2016


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 73 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

babequeenie said on 14 October 2014

Read that wart can be spread in swimming pool but was advised by GP (Dermatologist) that it is ok to go swimming with a plaster on the wart!
Not sure whether that GP has ever gone swimming in his life as no plaster will stick to skin in the pool.
No wonder warts spread if GP think it is ok to go swimming with no other protection other than a normal plaster.
A friend suggested that we use nail polish as this give it more of a sealant.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Foot health

How to keep your feet healthy, choose the right sports shoes and what to do if you have smelly feet