In actuality, warts are benign skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They come in many varieties, including plantar warts (most commonly found on the bottoms of the feet), common warts (dome-shaped and found most commonly on the hands), genital warts (found on the genitalia a spread by sexual contact), and others.
Myth: Warts are Caused by Toads
This fairy tale is one of the most prevalent wart rumors, especially among children. Toads have nothing to do with HPV, and you can’t get a wart by touching a toad.
Myth: Warts Have Roots
They don’t. They’re a result of rapid growth of the top layer of skin. If they seem to extend deeper, it’s only because they’re displacing other layers.
Myth: Warts Aren’t Contagious
Touching a wart doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop one yourself, but the HPV virus that causes them can be transmitted through contact with an infected person. Genital warts are highly transmittable and spread via sexual contact (which isn’t limited to vaginal penetration). To help prevent warts, wash your hands frequently. Since HPV enters the body through the bloodstream, be extra careful if you have open cuts.
You can help your body fight HPV by boosting your immune system. Exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and making sure you get plenty of Vitamin C are good first steps.
Myth: Warts Can’t Grow Back
In some cases, you will never see a wart again once it’s removed. Since the human papillomavirus itself has no cure, though, some types of warts may re-emerge months or even years after the fact.
Myth: Warts Can’t Be Treated
In fact, there are many successful wart treatments available, both surgical and non-surgical. Electrosurgical wart removal, cryotherapy (where the wart is frozen with liquid nitrogen before removal), prescription medications, and over-the-counter topical solutions are some options. Talk to your dermatologist about the one best for you.