Straight Talk on Warts (HPV)-From a Dermatologist;
Warts – or “verrucae vulgares” – are important skin problems now known to be due to a viral infection in the skin. This viral origin means that warts are contagious: they can spread within families and through shared spaces like locker rooms. Certain strains of warts are what are called oncogenic, meaning that they can later develop into types of squamous cell skin cancer.
Here’s some straight talk on warts, with my having practiced Dermatology for the last 29 years:
First, Benjamin Franklin once said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Good skin hygiene is key in cutting down your risk of contracting warts: frequent hand (and foot) washing, avoiding sharing socks or shoes, wearing protective clogs when in the gym.
Secondly, warts are contagious, meaning that they can spread on a person’s own body –or they can spread to other family members or close contacts. I personally have had many patients over the years who spread warts through shaving their legs: 1 wart becomes 20! So I would argue that it’s important to get warts treated.
The person below has what are called "plantar warts," due to having planted his foot ona surfae where someone previously had stood, who had had warts.
Thirdly, we now have 3 vaccines to cut down on development of warts from certain strains of wart virus known to lead to risk of cancer of the cervix, anal area, vulva, and oropharynx: Gardasil®, Gardasil9®, and Cervarix®. These vaccines are most effective if administered to both boys and girls before exposure to wart virus, by ages 11 to 13, through they’re approved up to age 26. For more: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet#who-should-get-hpv-vaccination.
Fourthly: Dermatologists have generally effective therapy in helping patients to deal with warts. The most common therapy for warts is cryotherapy: the warts are frozen with liquid nitrogen, promoting blistering of the skin. Sometimes Dermatologists also cut out or excise wart tissue, to get it checked for skin cancer by the lab. Sometimes we prescribe salicylic acid-containing lotions or gels to promote removal of the wart-infected tissue, or prescriptions like Imiquimod or Tretinoin Cream.
Genital warts are really high priority to treat, because they pass back and forth between partners. This conidtion is sometimes called HPV, for Human Papillomavirus Infection, because it's due to a papillomavirus. Important: effectively managing this infection means that both partners need to be treated.