Whether you are a longtime wart sufferer or have only recently been a victim of finger warts, questioning the source is often the first thing on your mind. The truth is warts have only one cause, and that is a virus. Common myths regarding the possibility of contracting warts from toads and other animals are entirely false. Even though warts on the hand or fingers can be unsightly and frustrating, they generally cause no harm and are not a threat to your health.
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How do I get warts on my fingers?
You can develop warts by skin to skin contact. Usually there will need to be direct contact with the wart or something that the wart has vigorous contact with, such as a hand towel used after washing hands. Warts on the fingers do not spread easily. Just as being coughed on by someone with a cold does not guarantee you will get sick, shaking hands with someone with warts will not result in infection in most cases.
Your chances of getting finger warts increase if you have cuts or wounds on your hands or fingers. Still, even an infection does not always result in warts. The virus that causes warts often has no effect at all on people who contract it and poses no risk. It is truly the unlucky few whose infection progresses to warts. Even with this progression, warts are simply skin growths and are harmless aside from the ability to spread.
Here are a few ways you can contract warts on your fingers:
- Rubbing or touching another person’s finger warts.
- Using towels, gloves or gym equipment another person’s wart has touched.
- Vigorous skin to skin contact with warts such as strong handshakes or some sports such as wrestling.
What causes them?
The virus that causes warts on the fingers is called HPV. While this is the same virus that causes other types of warts, including genital warts, each strain is specific to a part of the body. Even finger warts can differ widely, with ones on the skin of the fingers being on strain and warts that appear under and around your fingernails being a totally different strain. For more info about a wart under fingernail check out this article.
As such, genital warts will not spread to hands nor vice versa, the same for plantar warts on the feet. You can only contract warts on your hands and fingers by someone who has that exact strain or from something they have infected.
It is worth repeating that hand warts are far less contagious than genital or other types of warts and the chance of contracting them from a single brief handshake is unlikely without cuts or wounds. Also of note is the human papillomavirus is extremely common, with up to 70% of the population infected at any given time. Despite this high count, few of that number ever develop warts. For those that do, removal is often not difficult at all.
Can finger warts be painful?
Most finger warts are rarely painful for most people but can be on occasion. To understand why, consider that a wart is merely an overgrowth of skin that happens to be contagious. Barring some other skin condition or infection you have, warts are completely unlikely to be painful at all. Most pain or discomfort occurring from finger warts is the result of individuals picking at their wart. Whether it is a bad habit or from removal attempts gone poorly, frequently picking or pulling at finger warts can cause irritation as well as bleeding that would otherwise not occur.
In order to prevent developing painful warts, avoid causing trauma to areas where warts exist. This of course may not always be possible, but bandaging the wart during these situations can help. Other options are removing the wart entirely.
A wart that is painful is usually due to one of these factors:
- Constant pressure applied to the wart area, such as manual work that puts pressure on the wart.
- Certain wart treatments such as freezing.
- Picking or pulling at the wart.
- Damaging or partially cutting the wart.
Warts that cluster around or beneath the nails of your fingers and toes can be the exception to the rule that most warts are not painful. These warts are called periungual warts and appear as fissured skin. To learn more about periungual warts, see this page. If you experience warts around or beneath your fingernails or toenails, seeing a doctor as soon as possible can help prevent both pain and the possible lasting damage from this unique type of wart.
Are my finger warts contagious?
Warts are caused by HPV which is a contagious virus that is spread by skin to skin contact. Warts on the fingers are indeed contagious, even though they are less so than plantar warts or genital warts. You can spread your finger warts with people who touch them, even accidentally as well as via items that contact your warts such as gloves or gym equipment. This, however, does not mean you must change your lifestyle or view yourself as a disease carrier.
Making some simple adjustments can help lower your already low chance of spreading finger warts.
It is important not to overreact as HPV already exists almost everywhere people do without causing warts especially:
- On bathroom sinks and faucets.
- On door knobs and handles.
- In restaurants and public showers.
Getting warts from another person can be really upsetting, but don’t forget your ability to stop the cycle. Take the necessary steps to avoid spreading your warts and inform your sexual partners of your hand warts if massaging or other prolonged contact will occur.
A good way is to keep your warts from potentially spreading is to wipe down any public or gym exercise equipment with a disinfectant spray after use. This does not need to become an embarrassing thing as almost all gyms have bottles and paper towels readily available to users for this purpose. It is sanitary for everyone, not just people for warts.
Another step is to keep a bandaid over warts on your fingers when you predict you will be shaking hands, playing sports or other activities where wart contact is likely to occur. Lastly, there are many ways to get warts removed for good, both at home or by a doctor. For more information on how to get rid of warts on fingers, read this article. Regardless of the option you eventually choose, remember there is no danger to having finger warts.
Warts on the fingers can be scary and embarrassing due to their noticeable location. However, there is no need to worry as they do not present any health risks. Caused by the human papillomavirus, warts will often go away on their own or can be easily removed by various treatments. Warts are rarely painful but are contagious. There are simple steps a wart sufferer can take to reduce the chance of spreading warts but the likelihood of spread with or without steps is typically low.