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Are Warts Contagious?

A wart is a widespread skin anomaly, also known as Verruca Vulgaris. Warts are caused by the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. It looks like a small rough blister or a small cauliflower. Warts can grow anywhere on the body. This infection is mainly a cosmetic issue and often makes people embarrassed in social gatherings. So, how are warts (HPV) contagious, and how do they spread?

Warts are spread by close skin-to-skin contact, as warts are contagious. That means the infection can be transmitted from one person to another. Moreover, you can also catch warts by touching contaminated objects, especially when your skin is damaged or wet.

Warts are caused by a virus

So what viruses cause warts? A wart is caused by HPV. And if you know what HPV is, you’ll probably get a little upset. You might recall that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and could cause cervical cancer. It’s also highly contagious.

However, that’s not the case with warts. So when is HPV contagious, and when it’s not? Are warts really caused by HPV? Well, rest assured, as there isn’t just one type of HPV virus. Human papillomavirus is a family of viruses that have 150 variants. The HPV variant causes warts to build keratin in your skin. This excessive amount of keratin develops a hard, rough texture of a wart. As a result, you get HPV warts, which seem like a tiny blister of hard flesh, usually on your feet, hands, or genitals.

Warts are contagious

Even though the HPV variant causing warts aren’t life-threatening, as they’re only benign. However, HPV warts are contagious and can be transmitted directly and indirectly. Are all warts contagious? Yes, all types of warts are contagious and can affect any part of your body. But common warts can spread to almost anywhere on your body (like feet, hands, fingers, neck, etc.) except the pubic area. Likewise, genital warts cannot spread to other parts of your body.

You can even catch warts from a public area, such as a swimming pool. If you walk barefoot and your feet touch a wart-contaminated area or use a towel of someone with an HPV wart, you can also be infected in no time.

Damaged skin is susceptible to warts

This wart-causing HPV virus multiplies itself in your skin. People with injured skin, like having a cut on their foot or hand, are more likely to get infected with HPV warts. Furthermore, you can also get affected with warts if you shave or scratch your skin while being exposed to the virus. Not only that, but wet skin is even more vulnerable to HPV wart infection as compared to dry skin. Other risks for developing warts include:

  • People working with raw meat, such as at a slaughterhouse
  • Children and teens who use communal showers after sports or public swimming pool
  • People with a weak immune system
  • Patients with atopic diseases, such as eczema
  • People who have undergone an organ transplant or have cancer or AIDS
  • Anyone who has close contact with people having warts

You can spread warts to yourself, too

Can warts spread to other parts of your body? Yes, wart-causing HPV can spread to other parts of your body. For example, if you have warts on your feet, they may spread to your hands or neck. These warts are known as common warts. But they cannot spread to your pubic area.

On the other hand, genital warts are more contagious than any other warts. People with genital warts can infect another person by sexual activity, as this HPV-6 and HPV-11 can spread quickly by skin-to-skin contact. So, can genital warts spread to other parts of your body? The good news is, no, they can’t be transmitted to other parts of your body. Moreover, you can only get infected through sexual activity with a person having genital warts.

Warts usually disappear on their own

Some warts usually take about a year to disappear on their own; others will probably not. It is important to note that any wart can become a source to spread onto other parts of your body. Since warts are contagious, they can infect your loved ones too. Most dermatologists advise treating warts as soon as they appear on your skin. You should contact your doctor right away if your warts bleed, secrete, change in color, cause pain or soreness.

Warts can be treated, not cured

As said earlier, some common warts can likely go away on their own. However, it may take a year and can also spread to other parts of your body. Most people prefer to see a doctor for treating warts as home treatments aren’t as effective as getting treated by a dermatologist.
With the help of treatment, you can eliminate the virus, help your immune system fight it, or do both. Your treatment can take a few weeks or months, depending on the type of treatment you choose. However, warts can recur even with the treatment.

Treatment methods to treat warts

Your doctor will start with the least invasive method. The nature of your treatment may depend on your warts’ location, your preferences, and its symptoms. Following are some common approaches to help treat HPV warts:

Salicylic acid: strength peeling medicine with salicylic acid removes layers of a wart little by little over time. This treatment is more effective when coupled with freezing.

Freezing: in freezing or cryotherapy, your doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to your wart. This will help form a blister around your wart, which marshes off dead tissues within a week or two. This treatment can be painful. Thus, it isn’t used on young patients.

Trichloroacetic acid: if the first two treatments don’t work on you, your doctor may try this treatment. Your doctor will first shave the warts’ surface, then they will apply the acid to the wound. This treatment requires repetition every week and can cause a stinging sensation.

Minor surgery: minor surgery requires cutting away the affected tissues, leaving a scar in the surgical area.

Laser treatment: this treatment burns or cauterizes affected blood vessels, causing infected tissues to die and fall off. The side effect of this treatment is scarring and pain.

If you’re worried about spreading your warts to others around you, or even for cosmetic reasons, getting it treated by a doctor is the best option. Call our specialists in dermatology today to learn more about your treatment.