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Warts

  • Though highly contagious, warts are benign, generally painless skin growths caused by any of over 100 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • When skin warts first appear, it’s important to treat them quickly to prevent the virus spreading to others or elsewhere on your body.
  • At least 40 strains of HPV are transmitted sexually. While most cause genital warts, a few high-risk strains (for which vaccines are now available) have been linked to causing cancer.
  • Though most everyone will experience warts in their lifetime, children and teens are most susceptible because of their underdeveloped immune systems.

More About Warts

Who Gets Warts?

As we become exposed to the many strains of HPV, our immune systems build their defenses, which is why only about 3-5% of adults have warts at any given time compared to 33% of children and teens. However, those with compromised immune systems, chronic skin conditions, regular exposure to HPV strains or people with warts, are especially at risk for developing mild to severe issues with warts.

Wart Prevention

Because warts target moist, soft, or injured skin, following these best practices will help to prevent them:

  • Treat warts quickly to prevent spread.
  • Learn and adhere to safe sex practices.
  • Never share towels or razors or reuse those that have touched or nicked a wart on your body.
  • Wipe down gym equipment and wear sandals in public showers.
  • Break the habit of nail-biting and picking at skin.
  • Wash hands often and thoroughly.

Types of Warts

When HPV infects an area of skin, it triggers extra cell growth that quickly forms a hard, raised bump that can individually grow to the size of a pencil eraser. The type of wart (common, flat, filiform, plantar or genital) depends on where it’s located and what it looks like. For example, plantar warts, located on the sole of the feet, grow into the skin instead of being raised because of the pressure of standing and walking. Without treatment, warts can take months or years to disappear, if they go away at all.

Treating Warts

While OTC treatments or home remedies exist to treat warts, it may take longer than you’re willing to wait to get rid of them. Warts can cause emotional distress or embarrassment and some, especially plantar warts, are especially painful. Waiting also increases the risk of the wart spreading to other areas of your body. Depending on the type and location of the wart, we may recommend freezing or burning for fast-acting removal, or immune boosting medicine to eliminate the risk of scarring.

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