You have warts on your hands and fingers. Almost everything you do irritates them, sometimes to the point of making them bleed. You want to remove them, but you aren’t sure about the best way to do so. Of even more concern are your worries about them spreading to other parts of your body or to family members before you can get rid of them. You don’t know if they’re common warts or something worse. Keep reading. We have collected the information you need in this article.
Table of Contents
Common warts are the ones that frequently grow on your hands and fingers. They’re usually small with a surface that feels rough.
Common warts can be:
Rarely, your wart may be black. You can learn more about black warts in this article.
Tiny black dots on the surface of common warts have led to people referring to them as “seed warts.” Before medical science discovered the cause of warts, it was believed that the black dots were seeds that would grow into new warts. That belief was debunked with the discovery that warts are caused by a virus. For more info about a seed wart check out this article.
Warts are nourished by a network of nerves and blood vessels. The black dots are the ends of blood vessels. They are the reason why warts bleed profusely when irritated. The so-called seeds are also one of the ways in which you can determine whether your growth is a wart or blister, as explained in this article.
Are They Contagious?
All warts are contagious. The virus that causes them infects the cells of the wart. Anything that touches the wart can potentially transfer infectious cells to healthy skin. If there is any kind of break in your skin, a new wart can grow.
Warts are spread if you:
- Share clothing or bedding with an infected person.
- Share personal grooming items with an infected person.
- Touch your own wart.
- Touch someone else’s wart.
Although most warts eventually go away without treatment, professionals often recommend removing common warts as soon as the first one appears to prevent additional growths.
HPV is the acronym for human papilloma virus, which is the cause of common warts and other kinds of warts. Once HPV finds a break in your skin, it adds its DNA to your skin cells. That causes the cells to expand and soon a wart appears.
Each cell in a wart is full of viral DNA and can potentially start a new wart. That’s why you need to avoid picking at your warts or scratching them. Those infectious cells will be on your hands or under your fingernails and can start a new wart the next place you touch. At the least, any wart cells that slough off will start new warts next to your existing wart. You will soon have a cluster of many warts instead of just one.
The skin on your elbows is often rough, which provides an easy entrance for the virus. You can learn about a wart on elbow here.
Can Common Warts Spread to My Genitals?
Genital warts are often called HPV warts, even though medically all warts are caused by HPV. Genital warts are also known as venereal warts. By whatever name they’re known, genital warts are the kind that infect your sex organs and anus. Unlike many warts, they’re painful.
Genital warts are spread by sexual intercourse with an infected person. Oral sex can lead to genital warts in your mouth or throat.
To find out more details on genital warts, go here.
There is controversy, even among medical professionals, as to whether common warts can infect the genitals. Common warts and genital warts are caused by different types of HPV, and each has its preferred location. While it would be unusual in most cases for common warts to grow on your genitalia, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
HPV is an opportunistic virus. If any variety of HPV can gain an entrance to your body, it will do so. If you have common warts on your hands, you are well advised to not touch your genitals or those of anyone else. You are also well advised to not allow someone with common warts to touch you.
Genital Warts Are Serious
You should consult a health care professional for any warts on your genitals. Unfortunately, those warts don’t just grow on the outside skin. They can grow inside the anus of either sex, inside the penis of men, and inside the vagina of women. They can also grow inside the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine outside your body. As well as seriously impairing your sexual activity, genital warts can also create problems with eliminating feces or urine.
Women can potentially develop various cancers if genital warts are not treated.
There’s More Than One Type of Wart
HPV has more than 100 varieties. Each variety is designated with a number, and each has a different effect on your body. The HPV varieties that are responsible for warts include Types 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, and 28. Types 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the ones that cause common warts.
These are the most frequent, but not the only, types of HPV that cause specific warts.
Not every growth that looks like a wart is an infectious wart. A benign growth called seborrheic keratosis can plague older adults. It looks like a wart and grows in all the same places that warts grow. It goes by a variety of names, including senile wart. Despite all the confusion, it is not a wart, it is not caused by a virus, and it is not contagious. A seborrheic keratosis does not require treatment but may be medically removed if your clothing or activities irritate it.
All warts are caused by an HPV infection, so even common warts can be described as HPV warts. However, in general conversation, people think of HPV warts as those infecting their genitals or anus.
Common warts and genital warts result from HPV infections, but the strain of HPV differs for each kind of wart. Each strain of the virus has preferred locations on your body. It is possible to have genital warts elsewhere on your body, especially on your legs or in your mouth. Common warts prefer hands and fingers, but they can potentially infect every other part of your body, including your genitals.
If common warts do spread to your genitals, they don’t turn into genital warts. Because they are a different type of HPV, they keep the designation of common warts.
Warts on your feet are usually quite painful, due to the pressure on your feet from walking. Foot warts can also be irritated by your shoes. Warts on the bottom, or soles, of your feet are often described as ingrown warts. Warts normally protrude outward, but pressure on your feet will push foot warts inward.
Medically, the sole of your foot is called plantar. Foot wart is the non-medical name for a plantar wart. The name simply describes the location of the wart, as it is a common wart that happened to grow on your foot instead of your hand.
Plantar warts are often acquired by going barefoot in public facilities, such as gym showers.
Remove Warts During Pregnancy
You must be especially cautious if you develop warts of any kind during pregnancy. Warts, especially those on or near your genitals, can infect your baby during birth. Warts on your hands can be transmitted to your newborn.
Most doctors recommend having your warts removed before your baby is born. It’s essential to avoid treating or removing any warts with over the counter products while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Too many products contain ingredients that can potentially harm your baby. Your health care professional will safely treat your warts.
How Are Common Warts Removed?
Dozens of treatments and products exist to remove common warts. Some individuals rely on home remedies. It takes time and lots of experimentation to find an effective remedy, and you may not wish to wait that long to rid yourself of the ugly growths.
Others turn to over the counter products. Again, it requires time and experimentation to find an effective product.
The fastest, safest, and most efficient way to remove warts is to consult a board-certified dermatologist. He or she will work with you to choose the best way to remove your warts.
Factors to be considered include:
- The location and size of your warts.
- Your lifestyle and daily activities.
- Your overall health.
- Your preferences.
- Cost of each procedure.
Your geographic location can also be a factor. Some wart removal procedures require specialized equipment or training that isn’t always available in rural areas.
You have various ways of treating warts at home.
- Suffocation: Cut a piece of silver duct tape slightly larger than your wart and press it tightly against the wart. The idea is to cut off the air and suffocate the wart. Leave the tape in place for six days before removing. Let your skin breathe for one day, then apply a new piece of tape. Repeat until the wart dies. Please see detailed descriptions here. Other ways of suffocating warts include covering with super glue or nail polish.
- Debridement: Soak your wart in warm water for several minutes to soften it. Then gently rub off the softened surface with a pumice stone, emery board, or other gentle abrasive. Repeat daily until the wart disappears.
- Erosion: Apply an acidic product that will dissolve the wart layer by layer. A good choice is apple cider vinegar. Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar, then tape it to the wart. Pineapple juice and most citrus juices are also acidic. Mashed garlic taped to your wart will also erode it.
Home remedies generally take two weeks or longer to work.
Medical procedures are faster, but are sometimes expensive and can be painful.
These include killing warts by:
Your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength cream. Some creams must be applied by the doctor and others can be used at home.
Top Three Products
Salicylic acid is The First Choice for many professionals for removing warts. You can find many over the counter products containing varying amounts of salicylic acid, including:
Start with the gentlest products first, to avoid irritating your skin. Click here for more information about salicylic acid products.
The Second Choice for many is cryotherapy, which is freezing warts. You have a selection of over the counter freezing products. Further details can be found here.
Your Third Choice is a natural product called Thuja occidentalis. Thuja is an oil from an evergreen tree that has a long history of effectiveness in treating warts.
It’s available over the counter in pharmacies as:
- Ointments and creams.
Thuja is also included in many homeopathic remedies. For more information click here.
Warts are the symptom of an HPV infection. There is currently no cure for HPV. Your warts will recur for as long as the virus remains in your system. If your immune system is strong, it will eliminate the virus. Healthy lifestyle habits are the best way to get rid of your warts for good. Those habits include eating nutritious foods, exercising, quitting smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and reducing stress. All are easier said than done, but the reward is worth the effort.
You can find further details of Types of warts here.