What causes warts?
Different strains of the HPV virus may cause warts on different parts of the body. There are more than 150 types of HPV but only a few cause warts on your hands. Each person’s immune system reacts differently when it comes in contact with HPV. Some people never develop warts.
The virus infects the top layer of skin, and is transmitted by touching the wart or touching something that touched the wart, such as a towel or washcloth. After contact with HPV, it may take two to six months before the wart develops on your skin. Warts are more common in the beard area in men and on the legs in women because these areas are shaved frequently.
You’re more likely to get HPV if you have cut or damaged your skin, including a simple hangnail or scrape. The virus infects the skin where it was injured. Nail biting can help warts spread to fingers and around nails. Some types of HPV infection are transmitted through sexual contact (genital warts).
Who’s at risk for warts?
You’re more likely to get warts if you are a child or young adult. Your immune system has not yet developed an immunity to the virus. People with weakened immune systems are also more at risk of developing warts. This can include people with HIV/AIDS or those who’ve had an organ transplant.