In folklore and myth, warts have long been associated with witches, swampy regions, and wicked spells. While all of this is whimsical and imaginative, the truth about warts isn’t nearly as interesting, nor is it, in many cases, as dire. That said, there are still plenty of myths surrounding warts and their treatment. However, these myths have less to do with magic and misfortune and more to do with misinformation. Believing these false claims about warts can actually put you at greater risk of contracting them, spreading them, or ignoring them.
If you want to know the best ways to prevent and treat warts, it’s crucial to know what’s true and what’s false. Let’s go over 5 common myths about warts and set the record straight.
A simple internet query of “are warts contagious?” should dispel this myth quickly enough. However, no matter how sophisticated and trustworthy search engines become, there may still be misinformation out there. The fact is, warts are indeed contagious and in some cases, very much so.
Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, also known as HPV. This virus finds an opening in the skin and hangs out near the surface layer, making it easy to locate and easier to spread.
HPV may be anywhere, especially in warm, humid, populated places, including public restrooms, shower floors, fitness centers, etc. In order to lower your risk of exposure to this virus, try to avoid walking barefoot in these public places, and clean your hands with soap and water after touching surfaces. Make sure any cuts or sores you have are properly covered up, too.
The fact that warts are so prevalent in human storytelling debunks this myth with ease, as does the common phrase “...warts and all.” Plus, as mentioned above, they’re contagious, so they certainly get around. Warts have been around for a long, long time, and since there’s still no cure for HPV, they’ll likely stick around even longer. So, if you’ve ever felt weird or lesser for having some warts, understand that you’re not alone. Every year there are over 3 million reports of warts just in the U.S. There are plenty more globally.
Fortunately, this is incorrect. In fact, the vast majority of warts go away on their own. That said, some warts can linger for a while, especially if they’re in a spot that’s hard to see or feel. With proper wart treatment, however, most warts can be removed fairly easily. Treatment options include over-the-counter patches containing salicylic acid that gradually dries up the wart, cryotherapy (i.e. freezing the wart), prescription topical treatments such as aldara or efudex, laser surgery, and more.
One of these treatment options, or a treatment not mentioned here, should work well in most cases. Of course, the virus may still linger, especially in regards to genital warts, so warts may return. That said, these can be treated again and removed. Warts may be annoying, but they’re not permanent, save for the rarest exceptions.
While some form of HPV is always what causes warts, this doesn’t mean that all warts are the same. There are many different types of warts, varying in their location, size, coloration, and severity. These include common warts (round and gray-ish), plantar warts (warts on the soles of feet), flat warts (smaller, flat, and often yellow or pink in color), filiform warts (small, flap-like, and skin-colored), periungual warts (which grow beneath the fingernails and toenails), and genital warts.
Different types of warts may require different treatment methods, and some may hint at a deeper issue. This is why it’s important to understand that not all warts are the same. Your dermatologist can identify the type of warts you have and provide you with the right treatment for your circumstance.
Some myths contain a grain of truth, such as this one. As previously mentioned, most warts are painless, easily treated, and often disappear on their own. However, in some cases, the appearance of warts can be related to or caused by a serious illness, such as certain types of cancer. This is why it’s always a good idea to see a certified dermatologist if you’re concerned about the appearance of warts and/or they won’t go away on their own or with over-the-counter treatment. This way, you can have some peace of mind while also getting the best wart removal treatment necessary.
There are many more myths out there regarding warts, how to get rid of warts, their origins, etc. Be mindful of what you read online and elsewhere. If you’re unsure about the information you’re receiving about your warts, seek advice from a trusted source, like Premier Dermatology Partners or your dermatologist. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.