Nobody enjoys a wart. They’re unsightly and sometimes embarrassing, they can itch or be in the way, and it’s just plain irritating to have a growth sticking out of your skin that isn’t supposed to be there. Luckily, modern science has brought us much information when it comes to warts and wart removal. There are medications and treatments made specifically for plantar warts and genital warts. Drugstores have many items readily available to freeze or kill any wart on your hand, arm, legs, or face. But what happens when a wart creeps up somewhere unexpected, like your armpit? The armpit isn’t a place anyone thinks of when talking about warts, but they can definitely appear there.
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So I’ve Got Armpit Warts, Now What?
All warts on the human body are caused by HPV, a virus that thrives in warm, moist places like a locker room, bathroom, or pool deck. It enters your body through tiny breaks in the skin and settles into your skin’s epithelial layers where it then waits. Once HPV decides to activate, it replicates itself over and over again, building up wart tissue until breaking through the skin. Warts come in a large range of sizes and colors, and will show up in different areas of the body depending on what strain of HPV you’ve contracted.
When you’re trying to decide if what you’ve got is a wart vs. a mole or skin tag, keep these characteristics in mind.
Warts most often will have these types of appearance:
- Size: Warts come in many different shapes and sizes. They are usually round and can be tiny or larger than an eraser head. Usually, a wart will stick up out of the skin more than a mole will, although there are times when they are low to the skin, as is the case with flat warts.
- Color: Warts range in color but usually stick to flesh-colored or pink, as is the case with armpit warts. However, there are instances where warts appear red or brown.
- Shape: Warts in your armpit usually stay in a round or oval shape. Don’t confuse a wart with Molluscum Contagiosum, which are bumps caused by a virus that grow in the armpit. Unlike warts, they are more of a rash and usually have an indent in their center. Filliform warts are usually seen on the face but can sometimes be in the armpit; they appear long, thin, and flesh colored.
Once you determine that the growths in your armpit are indeed warts, the next step is to decide what to do with them. Some people may have an easy time figuring it out, as it doesn’t bother them at all. Others may need more help in making a decision.
Warts can spread through shaving. If you have armpit warts, be careful while shaving there, or avoid it altogether until the warts are clear. Razor blades will cut the top of the wart and take tiny pieces of it with them. When dragged across regular pieces of skin, the razor blades can then knick skin elsewhere and deposit the wart particles into that area, spreading the HPV virus and starting new warts. Waxing can be a good alternative, as it doesn’t spread any kind of cutting device across an entire area like a razor does.
Information On Dangers And Complications
When you’re thinking about what to do with your armpit warts, you might want to consider these:
- Pain: Because of the way your arm bends and folds, warts in your armpit can rub against the skin and be quite irritating, sometimes even painful.
- Growth: If your wart is growing without stopping, you might want to consider doing something about it. Letting it grow unrestricted in your armpit can make it become increasingly uncomfortable. Also, the larger it is, the more complications can come as the friction against it grows.
- Infection: When an armpit wart is rubbing back and forth against the same piece of skin all day long as you move, it can eventually cause the skin to break and become raw. Even if it’s only a small amount of broken skin, the site can become infected. Armpits are a place where bacteria love to grow, considering how warm and moist it is. This can easily infect the wart and/or the skin surrounding it.
Are They Contagious?
The short answer is that yes, warts are contagious. However, they aren’t contagious to the point where you can catch them just by someone breathing on you or even shaking your hand, necessarily. But because HPV is housed inside the wart, it technically can be spread from one wart to another person’s skin, if the virus can get into that skin through small breaks.
When it comes to armpit warts, it will be hard to catch it. People very rarely touch armpits with another person, which is what it would take for someone to give you warts there. Although, there is a small chance that you can transmit your armpit warts through fomite transmission, which is when the HPV is transmitted via objects instead of human carriers.
Some examples include:
- Dirty towel,
- Dirty t-shirt,
- Shared deodorant,
- Body loofah.
Fomite transmission isn’t a common way that warts are spread, although it can happen. Ways to prevent armpit warts from spreading via this method include washing towels right after you use them and not allowing others to wear your dirty shirts. Also, if you scrub at your armpits with a towel, don’t rub it on the rest of your body afterward.
When To See A Doctor
Most armpit warts will go away over time, anywhere from months to years, which wouldn’t require any kind of doctor’s visit.
But there are times when you may want to consult a physician about your warts:
- Removal: Whether you want your armpit warts taken off because they’re uncomfortable, or simply because they’re embarrassing, a doctor is a good person to go to for it. They can perform procedures that will quickly get rid of your wart, and in a way that leaves the least amount of scarring.
- Suspicious growth: Your armpit warts may be getting way too big, or maybe they’re painful. Perhaps they’re a suspicious color. Whatever it is, a doctor who has experience with warts will know exactly what it is you’re dealing with and if you should be concerned about it.
- Bleeding: If you’re armpit warts keep bleeding, you may want to visit a doctor, as this isn’t something a normal, benign wart usually does.
Armpit warts. You may cringe at the words. It may be an awkward and even embarrassing place to find them, but warts inside your armpit do happen. But don’t worry, with proper treatment and management, they can quickly be a thing of the past.