AUG 23, 2017 05:47 AM PDT

What are Warts, Anyway?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

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
SEP 12, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 12, 2018
Supercapacitors to Outcompete Lithium-Ion Batteries
In many scientific breakthroughs, researchers often associate one idea with another in the most unexpected way. Inspired by the same polymer found in conta...
SEP 15, 2018
Videos
SEP 15, 2018
A Hangover Cure in a Pill
A night of drinking can lead to a morning of regret for many people, but science is working on a solution for the physical pain....
SEP 16, 2018
Videos
SEP 16, 2018
Diseases Lurking in Our Backyards
Despite being invisible, microbes surround us all the time. They cover our phones, our hands, and infiltrate our backyards. Although a lot of these microbe...
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
The Science of Being Transgender
Gender identity is an issue that some have trouble understanding. It’s not always about male or female, because gender can encompass more than those...
OCT 05, 2018
Videos
OCT 05, 2018
Listeria Infections Linked to Deli Ham
The CDC has some advice about a ham recall announced on October 3 by Johnston County Hams, Inc....
OCT 07, 2018
Videos
OCT 07, 2018
Certain Foods Encourage a Gut Microbe, and Colon Cancer
Researchers reveal more evidence that refined grains and sugars and processed meats are bad for colon health....
Loading Comments...