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Causes, Treatment, and Prevention of Common Warts

Updated on February 13, 2009

Cause of Common Warts

Common Warts such as those found on hands, feet (plantar warts), knees, and on the noses of witches are caused by the Humanpapilloma virus, aka HPV. HPV is also the cause for genital warts and abnormal cell growth that can lead to cervical cancer. Keep in mind that the there are over 100 strains of the HPV virus. The strains that cause genital warts will not cause common warts and visa versa.

How Do You Get Warts?

The Humanpapilloma virus is transferred by skin to skin contact. Some experts claim that something as simple as sharing a towel can cause the transfer of common warts.

Experts insist that sexually transmitted HPV strains, the ones that cause genital warts and can cause cervical cancer, can only be transmitted sexually thus the reason they are considered to be "sexually transmitted diseases"

The Humanpapilloma virus can lay dormant for years. So a new wart may pop up even though you have not recently been in contact with the virus. Because it is a virus, once you have it, you always have it and visible warts can be removed, but the virus can not.

Treatment of Common Warts

There are a few different ways to remove warts. The easiest is to wait it out, not for the impatient though. A wart can take months, even years to disappear and some warts just won't go away. If you fall into the not-so-patient category, you can go to your doctor for removal treatment or you can do it yourself at home.

Your doctor can use chemical treatments or liquid nitrogen to remove the warts. This can sometimes take multiple applications and if you don't have great health insurance it can become quite costly. It is considered the most effective and I can tell you from experience the liquid nitrogen does have positive results. Your doctor can also burn, cut, or remove the wart with laser removal methods.

Before going to the doctor, you may want to consider some at home methods. Anyone will tell you duct tape has a million uses. It helped keep the front bumper of my 91 Chevy Corsica together for quite awhile and it is claimed to help with warts too.

Some believe that covering the wart with duct tape for a week and then tearing off quickly will cause the body become irritated and want to attack the wart. I've yet to hear of any success with this method and would recommended applying Salicylic Acid as a more conventional, traditional approach.

Salicylic Acid is not a quick fix, but it is a proven over the counter method for removing warts. On the right are a few popular affordable options.

Salicylic Acid should be applied to damp skin after bathing. With repeated use, the acid sinks into wart and destroys it. Different brands have different approaches to wart removal, but any Salicylic Acid solution will work with time.

Over the counter common wart remedies should not be used on genital warts.

Can We Prevent Common Warts

Most people don't run to touch another persons wart. Yet we still pass them. Avoid scratching or picking at warts you already have and wash your hands thoroughly after touching them. Spreading common warts is said to not be highly contaigious and are generally only transferrable through skin cuts or through mucous membranes.

Mucous membranes are the skins that protect the insides of our bodies. Such as inside the nose, mouth, and ears.

Not just to for wart prevention, Sharing unclean towels and clothing or other objects such as hairbrushes, toothbrushes, etc is incredible unhygenic and can lead to more then just a ugly wart.

Genital Warts? Huh?

As stated above, genital warts are in the same virus family as common warts but are different strains. Genital warts should not be treated the same as with common warts. If you feel you may have genital warts your best defense to see your doctor and learn more.

Genital warts are VERY common. Sexually transmitted HPV is considered to be the most common STD. There are over the counter remedies, but these are not the same as those meant for common warts.

Learn more about genital warts here.

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