You and your family members seem to have breakouts of warts one after another. The warts appear in different places on your bodies at different times. You’ve tried various remedies and treatments, but the ugly things keep coming back. You’re afraid now of getting them “down there.” You want to get rid of your wants once and for all. To do that, you want to know what causes warts. So far you haven’t discovered any commonality among the appearance, location, or timing of your warts. So why do they continue showing up? Keep reading. This article has the facts on how and why you get warts.
Warts have one basic cause, and that is a virus. You are, however, exposed to the virus in a variety of ways. That leads to the belief that the manner of exposure is the cause of the warts, which is important because knowing how you get the ugly growths can help you prevent them. The wart-causing virus is contagious and passed from one person to another by touch.
You may not have knowingly been in contact with someone who has a wart. However, the virus is very persistent and can live on objects that a person with warts has handled.
It Isn’t in Your Blood
The virus does not enter your bloodstream. It lives only in the top layer of your skin. If there is any cut or scratch on your skin, no matter how tiny, the virus can enter. Once it does, it infects your skin cells with its DNA. That makes the skin cells expand outward, and soon you have a wart. Every cell in the wart is filled with contagious virus DNA. There’s more information in this article about how do warts become contagious.
You can become infected if you:
- Use any personal grooming items that a person with warts has used.
- Use any bedding, clothing, or towels that a person with warts has used.
- Touch someone’s wart.
- Touch your own wart.
- Use public facilities, such as gym showers, barefoot.
Your warts are caused by contact with the virus. Anyone that has the virus in their system is potentially contagious even if they don’t have visible warts. If you want to know can you get warts from frogs, the answer is no, as explained here.
Where Do My Warts Come From?
Warts are an abnormal growth of skin tissue. Your infected cells expand in number and size until they erupt through the surface of your skin. Although warts don’t look like your normal skin, they are deformed skin cells. Warts may feel like they are digging deep into your skin, but they don’t have roots. The virus that causes them can’t live anywhere but on the surface.
Warts may appear to penetrate downward, but what they’re doing is pushing against the second and third layers of your skin. Those layers aren’t infected, but the pressure of the growth compresses them.
What About Seed Warts?
Some warts are filled with black dots. Many people refer to those as “seeds, ” with the thought that the existing wart is putting out seeds to start new warts. As a wart becomes established, it acquires a network of nerves and blood vessels to sustain it. The little black dots are the ends of blood vessels.
Existing warts do cause new warts to grow. Rather than seeds, warts can shed contagious cells from their top layer. Each cell can potentially start a new wart. If you scratch or pick at your warts, those cells will be on your hands and under your fingernails. Unless you thoroughly wash your hands first, you can start new warts on every part of your body that you touch.
How Do Warts Form?
Warts can take several forms. They tend to look and feel different on different parts of your body, although any kind of wart can grow anywhere.
The main kinds are:
- Flat warts, which are generally on the upper part of your body, especially your face. (read more)
- Periungual warts, which grow around and under your fingernails. (read more)
- Common warts, which can grow anywhere, but usually appear on your hands and fingers. (read more)
- Plantar warts, which are warts on your feet and toes. (read more)
- Filiform warts, which grow in little frond-like projections, usually on your face. (read more)
- Genital warts, which grow in and around your genitalia and anus. (read more)
Most of your warts will be flesh-colored, but they can be any color from white to black. Some will be tiny, some will be large, and some will grow in groups of dozens.
The human papilloma virus is responsible for warts. You may know it as HPV. HPV has more than one hundred types, but less than a dozen are the cause of warts. The various kinds of warts are each caused by a different type of HPV. For example, HPV Types 6 and 11 are the cause of genital warts, and HPV Types 1 – 4 are the cause of common warts.
All warts are medically HPV warts because that’s the virus that causes them. However, in everyday usage, individuals usually refer only to genital warts as HPV warts. Regardless of whatever name they’re given or where they’re growing, all warts are the result of a viral infection and are equally contagious.
For a fully detailed overview on HPV you can check this article.
Do Warts Cause Cancer?
On the whole, warts are benign and do not cause cancer. However, researchers have learned that women with persistent genital warts often develop cervical cancer. If you have any growth on, in, or around your genitals or anus, it’s important to seek medical care. For more information click here.
It’s possible that viruses inhabited the earth before humans did. Or not. Scientists have various theories as to when and how viruses originated. No one knows for sure. What is known is that humans have suffered from the virus that causes warts for as long as there have been humans.
The early Greeks and Roman knew that warts were contagious, but they didn’t know they were caused by a virus. It took until the 1950s before doctors knew about HPV and its role in causing warts. They still don’t know how to effectively eradicate HPV, and it continues to infect humans.
Why Do I Get Warts?
People are susceptible to warts for several reasons.
For example, you are potentially more likely to get genital warts if you:
- Have sex with multiple partners.
- Have sex with someone who has multiple partners.
- Began having sex at an early age.
Genital warts can grow in your mouth if you have oral sex with a person who has warts. Read more here.
Warts grow best on warm and moist skin. Outdoor activities can not only make you hot and sweaty; you can incur little breaks in your skin. HPV couldn’t ask for a better environment if you come into contact with some who has been infected.
Stop Warts Before They Start
Despite all that, there is one overriding reason you might get warts, and that has to do with your immune system. Thousands of people develop warts, but millions of others don’t. Those who don’t get warts have a strong immune system that can repel or suppress HPV. Strengthen your immune system, and you’ll say bye-bye to HPV warts.
Good lifestyle habits that increase your immunity include:
- Eating nutritious meals,
- Maintaining a healthy weight,
- Getting adequate sleep,
- Exercising regularly,
- Moderate consumption of alcohol,
- No smoking.
Spending time in nature refreshes and replenishes you, which strengthens all your systems.
Stress is a culprit in numerous conditions, and has earned a reputation as a “silent killer.” It increases your vulnerability to nearly all diseases, and it slows healing. It doesn’t cause warts, but stress weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to invasion by any virus you’re exposed to, including HPV.
Dozens of ways to reduce stress exist. The healthy lifestyle habits listed above can help. One of the most important stress reduction techniques is to learn to relax.
Easier said than done in today’s hectic world, but here are some suggestions:
- Deep breathing,
- Do something that makes you laugh,
- Listen to music,
- Get/give a hug.
Some of these require a commitment and time you might not have, but others only take a minute. Find a combination of techniques that work for you. You’ll feel better and look better, and you won’t be trying to cope with ugly warts.
What Makes Warts Start?
Warts survive only on the top layer of skin. The virus that causes warts invades through any break in your skin. If you have a strong immune system, it can keep HPV from affecting you. But the virus is an opportunistic predator and it will exploit any weakness. Once it enters your body, it immediately begins reproducing itself.
HPV ensures its survival by infecting you with its DNA. HPV can go dormant and remain hidden in your system, sometimes for years. You can unwittingly infect others even when there is nothing visible on your skin. More often, however, you’ll develop warts within a few weeks of the initial infection. The infected skin cells undergo abnormal growth. That growth is what you see as a wart. You can learn more about warts symptoms here.
How Do Warts Grow?
Warts grow outward. As HPV replicates itself, it infects more skin cells, pushing them further through your skin. Warts are often rounded shapes that vary in size. A growth with jagged edges is more likely a mole that is becoming malignant than it is a wart. Some warts rise barely beyond your skin. Those are flat, or plane, warts. Others can protrude enough to seriously interfere with your activities.
Warts on your feet would normally grow outward like other warts, but the pressure of walking and irritation from footwear often pushes them inward. Calluses frequently grow over foot warts from friction and the wart itself is hidden. This had led to them being called ingrown warts.
Due to how contagious warts are, you’ll often find new ones appearing near your original wart. You can end up with a huge growth that you think is one wart, but it’s more likely a group of dozens, if not hundreds, of warts.
Most warts will disappear on their own without treatment. The strength of your immune system is the key factor in how long it takes for HPV to be suppressed. Once the virus is suppressed, your warts will vanish. The virus is what causes warts, and until it is eliminated, you are at risk for more warts to grow, regardless of what you do to eradicate them.
You can find further details of Warts here.