Ever since childhood, we’ve encountered fictional characters with deformities and maladies that make us believe they are bad, evil people. Who hasn’t seen a witch without a hideous wart? In truth, warts have absolutely nothing to do with morals and are generally hard thickened surface skin growths, but they can certainly be attributed to poor hygiene habits. To help you make sense of the myths and misnomers, we’ve gathered some typical questions and statements to quell your fears and fuel your recovery if you’re plagued by warts now or in the future.
- “Are All Warts the Same?” This is a great question, and you may be surprised to learn that there are many types of warts – five, actually. Warts can be flat or rounded on the top, and they can occur on your hands, feet, arms, thighs, face, genitals, and even under your nails. Plantar warts grow into your skin (as opposed to on top of it), so you’ll commonly see a small hole on your heel with hardened skin around it. Most of these are simply unsightly, but they can also be painful as well. If you suspect you have genital warts, be sure to see your doctor right away.
- “Are Warts Contagious?” The short answer is a resounding yes. If you have skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected, you can become infected yourself. And if an infected person touches an object, those same germs can be transmitted to you. Ultimately, being diligent about cleansing and sanitizing common surfaces can help prevent an infection.
- “Aren’t Warts Benign?” In many cases, warts that form on hands or feet are usually non-cancerous, but genital warts caused by type 16 human papillomavirus (HPV) have been linked to cervical and anal cancer. If you believe you’ve had direct contact with someone who had warts in their genital area, schedule an appointment to meet with your primary care physician (PCP). Immediate treatment is vital.
- “Are There Effective Treatments to Remove Warts?” Here’s the best news of all. There are DIY remedies as well as professional cryotherapy treatments that can remove most warts on the hands and feet. Warticide, in particular, is a home remedy that utilizes salicylic acid as well as tea tree oil and cedar leaf oil to freeze the wart, causing it to blister, peel, and stop growing. While it can take several applications, most warts resolve within a manner of weeks.
- “Do Warts Grow Back?” Unfortunately, the virus that causes warts remains in the body even if you have the warts removed. You can, however, take precautions to prevent them from recurring simply by being vigilant about your hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and visit your dermatologist at the first sign of a new occurrence.
While you may be embarrassed to ask your doctor about treatment, you shouldn’t be. Many options make removing warts relatively easy, and it’s important to remain watchful for any that grow back, change color, bleed, or become painful.