Most warts are harmless growths that will not affect your overall health. However, you may want warts removed if they are visible or on a part of your body where they are often bumped or injured.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes warts. There are many different types of this virus, and some affect only particular parts of the body. The virus is not particularly contagious, but when it comes in contact with an opening in the skin, it can take hold and begin to multiply.

Another common way warts are spread is through sexual contact. Warts caused by HPV strains (exact types of the virus) spread this way are called genital warts because they usually appear on and around the genitals and anus.

Warts grow because the body’s immune system takes a long time—often years—to recognize the HPV infection. Eventually the immune system does become sensitized (recognizes the virus) and attacks the strain of the virus that caused the wart. When this happens the wart gradually goes away. Other warts caused by different strains of HPV may remain, however, and new warts can appear. Over time the same sensitization process eventually causes these warts to disappear as well.

Sometimes a wart is more than just a nuisance. It may be in a place where it is embarrassing or easily damaged. If a wart is in a sensitive area, it is important to have a specialist who knows how to treat it effectively without damaging surrounding tissue.