Are Warts Contagious?

plantar wart on bottom of foot

Are Warts Contagious?

 The simple answer is yes. Warts are caused by human papillomavirus and HPV is extremely contagious. Warts are caused by contact with another person who has them or through something they have touched.

The strength of the immune system of the possible recipient plays a role. HPV infection, in general, may be extremely contagious but not all subtypes are highly contagious, and each person may show distinct reactions to HPV infection.

More About Warts

Warts, which are caused by human papillomavirus or HPV, are small lesions that grow on the surface of the skin. These lesions are non-malignant but are extremely contagious.

Researchers at New York University conducted a study and found out that there are about 69 percent of Americans who have been infected with HPV. There are approximately 14 million Americans are infected by HPV every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is this general belief that HPV is mostly associated with genital warts. But the fact is that warts, more frequently, grow on the feet, toes, fingers, hands, and face. And all warts are caused by HPV.

Common warts, which are non-genital, can be transmitted through direct skin contact with another person or through indirect contact. The most important thing to remember is that it depends on how strong the immune system of a person is for them to be vulnerable to infection.

There is a chance of reducing the possibility of HPV infection and the growth of common warts. As mentioned earlier, you may also get infected through indirect contact. Which means that you may acquire the infection through the environment. HPV can survive for a long time in warm and moist places. Examples of such areas are shower rooms, locker rooms and swimming pool areas.

You become more susceptible to infection when you have any irregular openings in your body (cuts, wounds, rashes, etc.). And if you have already been infected and grew warts, avoid sharing personal items like towels, shoes, socks and pumice stones as these items can be used to transmit HPV infection.

How Bad Can They Be?

HPV can be extremely infectious but, it normally isn’t that bad at all. They can be annoying and displeasing to the eye but it’s not life-threatening in most cases. These tiny lesions usually can go away on their own but it can take several months to a few years. Because of the time-consuming natural healing, a lot of people opt to medically remove it, especially if it is growing in an area where it’s either causing pain or is very visible.

These annoying lesions grow almost anywhere on the body. You will normally see common warts in children, and sometimes elderly people too because they have a weaker immune system than adults and that makes them susceptible to HPV infection.

A type of wart that is common among people infected with HPV are plantar warts. Plantar warts are lesions that grow on the soles of the feet. There is a huge chance that it can become painful because of the pressure placed on it every time a person walks and stands. Warts normally grow outwards, but in the case of plantar warts, they grow inwards making it more painful each time it grows.

A type of wart that’s considered to be more serious than plantar warts are genital warts. It still isn’t that dangerous (except in some cases with cervical warts) but it’s usually more of the social and emotional effect on the person infected. This form of wart is unique compared to other warts because this is transmitted through sexual intercourse and it has a different HPV strain, and these strains are also the reason behind 90% of cervical cancer cases. They can grow in a month or in two years after the first intercourse with an HPV infected person.

When it comes to treating warts, there is no definite and finite method for how to remove warts and HPV completely. The good thing is that over time it comes off by itself thanks to the efforts of the immune system. Things we can do to help it obviously are better.

Note that the immune system isn’t always successful in its efforts to fight off the virus effectively. If the immune system is not able to defeat the virus, then there is a big possibility that warts will grow again. What treatments can definitely do for now is visibly remove warts but that doesn’t guarantee that they won’t recur.

Overall, these tiny lesions are not dangerous in most of the cases. They may be displeasing to the eyes, but they will usually not be able to take your life. It may bring some sort of discomfort and pain at times but with the right treatment for the right HPV strain, you may just be able to remove them or even prevent them from growing in the first place.

David Christian

David Christian studied Philosophy at Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis, MO and served in the US Army. He is the Head Writer, Subject Matter Expert and Dr. Coordinator at Find out more about David here.

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