Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). More than 100 different types of this virus have been identified, and the characteristics of the wart are determined by the particular strain of virus involved.
Warts are contagious, and can be spread from one part of your body to another, especially at times when the skin has been broken (for example by scratching or otherwise injuring a wart). They can also be transmitted from person to person (for example via direct contact with someone else’s warts).
You’re more likely to contract warts if you spend a lot of time with your hands in water (e.g. washing dishes) or handling meat, if you swim in public pools, or if you are prone to sweating excessively from the hands or feet. Biting your nails also increases the likelihood of getting warts.
Once the virus enters your body, it may lie dormant for 1-12 months before warts appear, and in some cases even longer.
Children are more susceptible to warts and are most likely to be affected between the ages of 12 and 16 years. Patients with immuno-suppressive diseases are also at increased risk of contracting warts.