image if wart on big toe

Wart Myths Debunked

Out of all of the skin conditions out there, it’s quite possibly warts that cause the most confusion. Let’s clear up some of the most common myths surrounding this type of skin growth and set the record straight.

Myth #1: Warts are Caused by Touching Toads

You don’t have to worry about getting warts from toads. It’s actually the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes warts in people, and only a few strains of HPV cause the type of warts that form on the hands. Since HPV is only carried by humans, toads aren’t capable of giving people warts.

image of a toad

Myth #2: Warts Have Roots

Warts are growths that form from the top layer of the skin.  Contrary to popular belief, warts never form roots.

image of wart anatomy infographic

Myth #3: Warts Aren’t Contagious

Warts are caused by a contagious virus, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can enter the skin through a scratch or a cut. The virus can be transmitted through touching and by sharing personal items such as towels and razors. You can spread the virus to another person and also from one part of your body to another.

image of letters h p v

Myth #4: All Types of Warts are the Same

There are several different types of warts:

  • Common warts are the most common type of wart (as the name suggests) and are usually found on the hands, particularly the fingers, although they can occur in other areas.
  • Plantar warts occur most commonly on the ankles and feet.
  • Filiform warts usually appear on the face, especially around the mouth, eyes and nose.
  • Periungual warts form around and under toenails and fingernails.
  • Flat warts usually appear on the face, especially the cheeks and forehead.
  • Genital warts are caused by an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and occur on the genitals and anus.
image of warts on bottom of feet

Myth #5: Warts Are Forever / Can’t Be Treated

If you have a wart, you’re not stuck with it forever. There are a number of different treatments for warts, for example:

image of medicated wart remover
image of person applying wart remover on foot

While warts can be treated and removed, note that the wart may form again if the virus remains in the skin. Unfortunately, wart treatments don’t kill the virus that causes warts.

Myth #6: It’s Impossible to Prevent Warts

Although they’re common, warts are not an inevitable part of life and you can minimize your risk of getting warts by following some basic steps including:

  1. Don’t touch another person’s wart.
  2. Keep your hands clean by washing them often with warm water and soap.
  3. Don’t share personal items such as towels, nail clippers and razors.
  4. If you get a scratch or a cut, thoroughly clean the area immediately and cover it with a bandage.
  5. Avoid going barefoot in public areas such as locker rooms and areas around public swimming pools.
image of man wearing flip flops