Are Warts Contagious?

Are warts contagious?

You may realize that you can't get warts by touching a frog or toad. However, could you get them by touching another person's warts or just by being near someone who has them?

A common wart — we aren't discussing genital warts here — is a round or flat bump on your skin's surface level. If you get one, it'll probably show up on a knee, hand, or foot. Warts on fingers are especially frequent.

Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This category includes more than 100 types of viruses, and they lead to a variety of medical problems. They don't all bring about warts.

Anyone can get warts, but people with immune deficiencies are more susceptible to them. Children and teenagers are, likewise, more prone to these growths. Once they and their immune systems grow up, the warts then tend to go away. For the most part, though, warts aren't all that contagious.

The Nature of Warts

Different kinds of HPV cause different kinds of warts. For instance, the virus that leads to finger warts isn't the same as the one that causes genital warts. Certain types of HPV are more contagious than others too.

Just because you've come into contact with someone's warts doesn't mean you'll get them yourself. In many cases, the HPV would have to pass through an opening in the other person's skin and then enter an opening in your skin. In other words, you'd both need to have a skin injury, however slight, for the warts to be communicable. What's more, even if you contracted an HPV, your immune system might fight it off before any warts emerge. That’s because most adults have already been exposed to the wart virus and have natural immunity.

Once a virus that causes common warts infects you, you won't necessarily see the bumps right away. A latency period of days or weeks could go by. Those growths might not show up for a few years, so it is usually nearly impossible to figure out the source of a person's warts.

Some Words of Wart Advice

The one important thing to do to prevent warts is not to pick at, cut or otherwise manipulate your warts or someone else’s warts.  Shaking someone’s hand with warts is not going to do you any harm. But, fooling around with them, trying to cut them off or burn them off can result in lots of new warts. Watch carefully when you shave, if you have warts in an area you shave (face for men, legs for women) be extra careful around the wart and shave that area last. You can definitely pick up the virus on a razor and spread it to other areas. There are a couple of major ways to prevent warts on hands. First, wash your hands thoroughly and right away if you suspect you've just touched a person with warts.

Warts are typically benign. Even so, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist as soon as you notice one, particularly if it's painful. That way, you can be certain it isn't something more serious.

Unfortunately, there's no cure for warts yet. Warts often go away on their own, children's warts in particular. The bad news is that they may return at some point in the future. In any event, given that they're not too contagious, the prospect of getting warts shouldn't turn you into a worrywart.

Treatment for Warts at CDCRI San Diego

For advanced wart treatment, you can get in touch with California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute (CDCRI) in San Diego at any time. Warts are no match for CDCRI's medical experts. Visit our current studies page to find out what research-based treatment is available for your condition. Call us at (760) 203-3839