Warts - Are they contagious?


I am a 37-year-old mother with three children. My middle child is 9 years old and recently got a wart on her hand. I heard that it is a virus infection. Do I need to worry that she is contagious to others? Are the over-the-counter medications any good?


Warts are caused by a virus, are generally harmless, and can be on almost any part of the body. They can vary in size and number and can be painful, especially when located on the bottom of a foot or other sensitive area.

Since warts are caused by a virus, they are slightly contagious to people not immune to the wart virus, but only through direct skin contact. A person with a wart is obviously susceptible, and the warts may spread on their body. Scratching or picking at a wart, shaving or biting warts on fingers can lead to spreading.

Warts are difficult to prevent; however, going barefoot increases one’s chances of developing a plantar wart, if exposed. There are no effective vaccines or oral medications for warts, despite anecdotal reports to the contrary. People have been trying to cure warts for thousands of years. The success of some anecdotal treatments for warts is due to the fact that warts often disappear by themselves, especially in young children. That means there is a spontaneous cure rate of some warts, but it is less common in adults.

There is no single, perfect treatment for warts . Treatment is directed at killing the virus with the hope that the destroyed virus will not only go away, but will stimulate an immune response to prevent the return of the wart. There are over-the-counter medications containing salicylic acid that can destroy warts. If over-the-counter medications fail, see a dermatologist for evaluation and treatment. The treatment used by the dermatologist will depend on the location of the wart, its size, the age, and skin type of the patient, as well as the person’s activity level.

Sometimes new warts will form while existing ones are being destroyed. New warts can be treated only when they become clinically apparent. Some warts can be stubborn requiring different treatment modalities when a previous type of treatment has failed. Although frustrating, warts may return weeks or months after an apparent cure. There is no reason to be concerned if a wart recurs, but it will need to be treated again.

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