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

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