When warts start growing on your body, you naturally start looking for ways to get rid of them. Even if you happen to find a way to successfully eradicate your warts, you keep getting more. Sometimes the new ones grow in the same place the old ones did, and sometimes they grow in a completely different place on your body. What is going on? How do warts spread from one area to another? Will the warts on your hands start spreading to your face? Keep reading to learn why and how warts spread. We also have tips for preventing the spread of warts.
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How Do Warts Spread?
To understand how warts spread, it’s helpful to first know what causes them. Throughout history, the supposed causes of warts have been many and varied. Warts can appear suddenly, just as quickly disappear, or hang on for months. They follow their own schedule. That led to many superstitions as to what caused them as well as how to get rid of them.
Nearly all the causes were attributed to forces beyond the person’s control. Magic and witchcraft were frequent culprits. In some cultures, it was believed that developing a wart meant that the victim was a liar. It wasn’t so long ago that people believed handling a toad caused its bumps to turn to warts on your hands. Read this article if you want to know can you get warts from frogs.
Science Provided An Accurate Answer
When they turned to hard science for answers, researchers discovered that warts are caused by a virus. The virus is infectious, and warts are spread via contact with someone or something that carries the virus.
Once the virus enters your body, it attaches to host cells. In the case of HPV, the host cells are the top layer of your skin. The infection swells the tissue, resulting in the growths you recognize as warts.
How Are Warts Transmitted?
Knowing that the source of warts is a virus is only the first piece of information you need to understand how warts are transmitted from one person to another. The virus responsible for your warts is the human papilloma virus, which many people know as HPV. HPV isn’t just one virus, however. So far, it’s known to have more than 130 varieties, each of which is labeled with a number.
Fortunately for humans, only a few of the HPV types cause warts. Each type has its favorite place to infect, and causes a different type of wart to grow in that location. For example, plantar warts on your feet are caused by HPV Types 1 – 4. Flat warts, such as those growing on your face, are cause by HPV Types 3 and 10.
A virus is a parasite. It doesn’t have the ability to grow unless it is in the body of a:
Viruses are such tiny organisms that their existence wasn’t theorized until the late 1800s and not confirmed until the 1930s. Larger viruses were discovered in the 1990s, and scientists are continuing their research into the number and functions of viruses.
How Did I Catch HPV?
HPV lives on the surface of your skin and is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. HPV also has the ability to survive on objects.
The most frequent ways you can “catch” HPV include:
- Sharing grooming items with an infected person.
- Touching another person’s wart.
- Touching a wart on your body.
- Sharing personal items, such as clothing, with an infected person.
- Intimacy with an infected person.
- Going barefoot in public places or facilities.
Understand that you can transmit warts from one part of your body to another. HPV infects by putting its DNA in your skin cells. Scratch or pick at your own warts, and you’ll transfer infected cells to the next place you touch. That is called autoinoculation, which is medical talk for self infection.
By the same token, never shave off the top of a wart. That releases hundreds of cells loaded with HPV DNA, and you’ll potentially end up with a cluster of new warts. If you have been wondering are warts contagious, you’ll find the facts here.
Warts on My Hand
HPV is the underlying cause of warts, but it needs a way to get in your skin cells. Once you’ve come in contact with the virus, it must find a break in your skin before it can start replicating itself. Warts on your hands are most often common warts. Your everyday activities can lead to innumerable small scratches and cracks in your hands and fingers, making them easy prey for the HPV type that causes common warts.
Once the warts start on your hands, you’ll often find more growing on your fingers and other locations on your hands. Since it’s almost impossible to isolate your fingers, most experts recommend having common warts removed as soon as you spot the first one to avoid spreading them.
Warts Can Grow Anywhere
Although common warts prefer to make their home on your hands, they aren’t picky about growing on other parts of your body. Every time you touch yourself, you can potentially start a new wart. Autoinoculation is almost impossible to avoid with common warts.
It’s important to realize that not every growth is a wart. You can learn about warts symptoms in this article. It’s best to consult a professional if you are unsure what your growth is.
Will My Genital Warts Spread to Other Parts of My Body?
Genital warts are often referred to as HPV warts. These are the warts that grow on your sex organs.
You are at high risk of developing them if you:
- Began having sex when you were young.
- Have sex with multiple partners.
- Your partner has sex with multiple partners.
- Have unprotected sex.
The friction in sexual activity leaves many breaks in your skin, which makes it easy for the virus to invade. Warts also grow best in the warm and moist environment provided by your genitals and nearby areas.
The HPV type responsible for genital warts can find a home elsewhere in your body. One of the first places they’ll spread to is your anus. Unlike other warts, they’ll also invade the interior of your genitalia and anus.
You’ll notice this if you:
- Experience pain or bleeding after sex.
- Experience a discharge.
- Have difficulty or pain when urinating.
- Have difficulty or pain with bowel movements.
Any growth in your genital and anal regions should be examined by a health care professional.
If you have oral sex with a person infected with genital warts, you risk acquiring mouth and throat warts. In some cases, even deep kissing is enough to transmit mouth warts from your partner to your mouth. Women are at greater risk than men are for genital wart infections on their faces.
How Can I Stop The Spread?
All this may make you think that you can’t avoid spreading warts all over your body. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent the spread of warts.
These steps include:
- Frequent hand washing to help prevent autoinoculation if you already have a wart.
- Applying moisturizers on dry skin to prevent breaks in your skin.
- Using condoms during sex. Condoms are not 100% effective, but they are better than nothing.
- Wearing gloves or protective clothing when outside to prevent scratches.
- Avoiding nail biting to prevent spreading of hand and finger warts.
- Keeping your warts covered with a bandaid.
You can also opt to have your warts removed. You can try home remedies, purchase over the counter products, or consult a medical professional. Removing or treating warts does not eliminate the virus and your warts may recur.
Rely on Your Immune System
Despite the ways in which warts can be spread, everyone in the world isn’t covered with warts. There’s good reason why many people who have been exposed to HPV don’t have warts. There isn’t a cure for the virus, but your own body has the power to protect you from infection. A strong immune system can repel the virus or suppress it. That’s why warts will eventually disappear without treatment.
Some of the ways in which you can improve your body’s ability to fight infection are:
- Getting adequate rest.
- Losing weight if you need to.
- Following a healthy diet.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Reducing stress.
Research has shown that smoking impairs your immune system so that you are less able to resist infection. Smoking also means that your infections are less responsive to treatment and last longer.
To date, the only way to avoid a viral infection is to be vaccinated if a vaccine exists for that particular virus. Gardasil is the primary vaccine that’s effective against HPV, but it must be administered to young individuals before they become sexually active. It’s only efficacious against genital warts. For everyone else and for the other types of HPV, it’s up to your immune system to keep your warts from spreading.
You can find further details of Warts here.