There's an old wives tale that claims you'll get a wart if you kiss a frog - but in reality, warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Like all viruses, it is contagious, which means you can catch one just by coming into contact with someone who already has them.
There are many types of warts (over 80 have been identified!) but basically there are two common types: The verruca and the flat wart:
- Verruca warts are small and hard, with an irregular surface.
- Flat warts generally grow in clusters, are only slightly raised and have smooth surfaces.
Many warts, especially flat warts, will disappear on their own without any treatment over a certain time period - or, you can go to the doctor who will remove them. However, there remedies for warts which may be used at home.
Self-treatment of warts has become far easier now that home wart freezing kits are available, such as Compound W Freeze Off or Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away Wart Remover. There is another home remedy which involves applying salicylic acid to the warts, found in products such as Compound W Liquid Wart Remover or Dr. Scholl's Clear Away One Step Salicylic Acid Wart Remover.
One home remedy which seems to be becoming more popular is to use duct tape. Cover the wart with duct tape for six days, then after soaking the wart, use an emery board or a pumice stone to rub away the affected area. The duct tape is then reapplied for 24 hours and the process is repeated for one or two months, after which time 80 percent of people find their warts disappear.
If your wart is still troubling you, the doctor is always a good stand-by to have it professionally frozen off. However, don't be surprised if your wart returns over a period of time due to its viral nature.
As warts are caused by a virus, when you find one it's important not to pick it, as this can damage the skin cells and allow the virus to circulate through your blood stream. This could lead to warts appearing in other areas.
The HPV enters the body more easily through skin that is moist, peeling or cracked. Some types are transmitted sexually, thus causing genital warts. The degree of contact, the location of the lesions and the amount of virus present are all factors which determine the extent of an HPV infection.
In general, common warts can be treated at home without fear of any unexpected reprisals - however, any wart which is in an unusual place, hurts or looks inflamed should always be checked out by a professional.
By Gabrielle Byrne