Are Warts Contagious?

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The internet is home to a lot of information, some of which can, unfortunately, be quite confusing and unclear. This article should provide you with a simple and clear cut answer to the question of whether or not warts are contagious.

How contagious are warts?

Warts are in fact extremely contagious, although that statement is a bit misleading as it isn’t the warts themselves but the virus that causes them which is infectious. Warts are caused by any one of over 130 subtypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a small and simple virus that makes its way into human skill cells to grow and replicate, driving its host cells to grow in an abnormal manner which results in the growths we see as warts. HPV is in fact a very contagious virus, and can be transferred through direct or indirect contact with someone who is already infected. Direct contact can include anything from a handshake to something more intimate, while indirect contact can vary from the sharing of a towel to walking on a changing room floor shared with an infected person.

There are different types of warts and different strains of the causative human papillomavirus, but one thing all of them share in common is how contagious they are.

I’ve been in contact with someone who has warts, will I get them too?

Direct contact with an infected person, even if they have just touched a wart and proceeded to touch you, will not necessarily result in an infection. Chances of catching the virus become fairly high if you have a break in your skin when you make contact or if you maintain poor hygiene. HPV typically makes its way in through scratches and small cuts, and the less clean you are the better an environment your skin becomes for infection.

How can I avoid getting warts if it’s so contagious?

Even despite how contagious warts can be, there are a number of practices you can adopt that lower your chances of catching the virus and developing warts yourself. Firstly good hygiene is always the best defence against many different types of surface borne infections, and warts are no exception. Secondly avoiding direct contact with someone who has warts will help prevent you getting the condition as well, particularly if you happen to have an open scratch or other break in your skin that allows HPV easy access. Some kinds of warts are transferred in more specific ways. Oral warts for example, tend to be the consequence of kissing or oral sex with someone who has either genital or oral warts. For complete protection you should avoid either practice with someone who has warts, but if this isn’t an option for you then the use of a condom will minimise contact with genital warts for instance.

 Similarly genital warts are transferred by sexual contact with someone already suffering from the condition, and the same principles of prevention apply. Plantar warts affect the soles of your feet, and so wearing slippers when in public changing rooms and showers is the best way to avoid developing unwanted warts on the bottom of your feet. Plantar warts can be quite painful as the action of walking tends to push the growths deeper into your skin, so prevention can save you a lot of discomfort in the long run.

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