AUG 23, 2017 05:47 AM PDT
What are Warts, Anyway?
WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 7 1201

Warts are unsightly and sometimes even painful. We typically associate warts with disease and contagion, a belief perpetuated by popular folklore in stories of witches, ogres, and similar wicked characters. In reality, warts can appear on anyone, anywhere.

The culprit behind the bumpy, hardened skin protrusions is viral. Specifically, warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes genital warts, a sexually transmitted infection. On other skin surfaces, different strains of HPV can cause different types of warts with varying appearances. And because the warts are viral in nature, it can be spread to other parts of the body, as well as to other people through close skin-to-skin contact.

Fortunately, most warts on the hands and feet can clear up without treatment, although the time it takes to heal can vary from a few weeks to several years. If you can't wait years, try some over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. One OTC option involves freezing the wart cells, which forces the site to scab and hopefully fall off.

To prevent warts from appearing on your body, practice careful hygiene, especially around people with warts. This includes avoiding the sharing of common personal items, such as shoes, towels, and clippers.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 18, 2018
Videos
MAY 18, 2018
Tips for Reducing Your Melanoma Risk
Each year, more people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer than every other kind of cancer combined. It's not just about having a pesky spot remove
MAY 20, 2018
Videos
MAY 20, 2018
What to Do if Bitten by a Snake
Snake bites can be scary; not just because they're painful, but also because it can be tough to discern whether the attacking snake is venomous or not. Nev
MAY 22, 2018
Videos
MAY 22, 2018
Could Humankind Terraform Mars or Venus?
Earth might be our natural home in the solar system, but many scientists propose terraforming nearby planets like Mars and Venus such that they can be made
MAY 29, 2018
Videos
MAY 29, 2018
These Are the Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Dwellers
People love dogs, and as such, many people have them as pets. But dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and various breeds also come with their own behavioral
JUN 17, 2018
Videos
JUN 17, 2018
DNA Sequencing Tells a Story of Human Migration
Researchers at Harvard Medical School are using modern sequencing technologies to learn more about our past.
JUN 18, 2018
Neuroscience
JUN 18, 2018
Artificial Intelligence and Superstition
When something happens, especially an adverse event, it’s human nature to try and figure out why. When people try to make sense of unfortunate events
Loading Comments...