Warts-who needs ‘em? No one. The ugly skin formations invade the outer layer of skin and cause a rapid growth of skin cells. Yuck. This growth results in a wart, and your own disgust. It also usually ends with the need for some treatment cream from the local pharmacy and/or a trip to the dermatologist.
It was not until 1950, when scientific theories could be proven by looking at particles through a microscope, that it became widely accepted that warts were caused by a virus.
And indeed they are-warts are caused by that nasty virus, HPV (human papillomavirus). But they don’t just pop down out of thin air. HPV isn’t a virus floating around in the air like the common cold.
So how do we get them? By doing these 5 things:
1) By shaking hands with someone who has them.
Warts are spread primarily through direct skin-to-skin contact, and the easiest way to go about getting a wart this way is to shake hands with someone who is already infected.
Always wash your hands.
2) By using towels used by someone who has them.
Warts can spread and stay on inanimate objects and then be transferred to someone else. Use your own towel.
3) By going shoeless in the public pool shower.
Similar to the above- watch your feet for plantar warts waiting to sneak in at the pool!
4) By getting a scrape or biting your fingernails and providing an avenue for infection.
HPV often lodges itself in a cut where it can nestle in the nice warm skin and blossom. Try not to bite your nails.
5) By spreading it on your own body.
You can easily spread the virus that caused your first wart by touching an existing wart with your razor and then shaving another area of your body, or something similar. Take care!
An interesting fact: warts can grow for many months- sometimes a year or more- before they are big enough to see.
Wart types include the common wart, flat warts, plantar warts and filiform warts, and of course, genital warts.
Common warts typically grow on your fingers, elbows, hands and knees and are dome-shaped, hosting a rough surface with black dots.
Flat warts-also called juvenile warts- are small and about the same size as a pinhead, and can grow on your face, arms, knees or hands. They can grow in clusters and are smoother than other warts with a flat top, colored pink, light brown or yellow.
Plantar warts are the ones that hurt, and occur on the bottom of your feet.
Filiform warts are the ones stereotyped on Hallowe’en witches and they grow in a finger-like shape and are usually flesh-colored, growing on or around the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Genital warts occur on, well, the genital areas.
So, how to get rid of them?
In medieval times, a preferred method for getting rid of warts was via spider webs. How, is uncertain but maybe that’s where the witch-connection originated.
Another first-known method of wart removal was in ancient Rome, where an unnamed individual chewed the growths off people’s fingers and feet.
Things have improved since then- not to fear.
In general, the treatment for a wart these days depends on the type of wart a person has, and can include treatments bought at the pharmacy, prescription medicine, cryosurgery, laser treatment, and surgery.
As always, a visit to the doctor is always in order, to reach a clear diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
by Victoria Simpson