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How to heal warts more quickly and prevent new ones


If someone in your family gets a wart, you can help it go away more quickly and prevent new warts from developing. Here’s what board-certified dermatologists recommend.

Two tips for healing warts more quickly

  1. Treat the wart. When someone has a healthy immune system, a wart will often go away on its own. This can take a long time, though. In the meantime, the virus that causes warts can spread to other parts of the body, which may lead to more warts.

    Treatment can help a wart clear more quickly. You can buy effective wart treatment without a prescription.

    When treating a wart, dermatologists recommend that you:

    • Cover your wart. This helps prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the body, and to other people.
    • Wash your hands immediately after touching the wart. This also helps to prevent spreading the virus to other parts of the body and to other people.

  2. Avoid shaving over a wart. When you shave, you create microtears in your skin. If you shave over a wart, you’ll have microtears in your wart and the skin that you shave.

    Through these microtears, you can spread the virus that causes warts from the wart to any skin that you shave. For example, a man can get new warts in his beard area if he shaves over a wart and then shaves his face. When a woman shaves over a wart and then shaves her legs, she may develop several warts on her legs.

    If you shave over a wart and then shave your pubic hair, you can develop warts in your pubic area.

Nine precautions that can help prevent warts

The virus that causes warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), spreads easily from person to person, and it’s found everywhere. For these reasons, it can be difficult to prevent warts completely.

By taking some precautions, you can reduce the risk of you and your family getting warts. For fewer warts, you’ll want to make sure everyone in your home follows these dermatologist-recommended precautions:

  1. Avoid touching someone’s wart. HPV is contagious. It’s possible for the virus to get inside your body through a cut or scratch, which can cause a wart.

  2. Make sure that everyone in your home has their own towels, washcloths, razors, nail clippers, socks, and other personal items. If someone in your home has a wart, this helps prevent the virus that causes warts from spreading from one person to another.

  3. Clean and cover cuts and scrapes. HPV is everywhere. If you touch something contaminated with HPV, it’s easier for the virus to get inside your body through a cut or scrape, which could lead to a wart.

  4. Wash your hands often. Because HPV is so common, this helps to remove the virus from your skin.

  5. Prevent dry, cracked skin. When skin is cracked and dry, it’s easier for HPV to slip in through a crack in your skin, which could cause a wart.

  6. Stop nail biting and cuticle chewing. When you bite your nails or cuticles, it causes sores and tears in the skin that are too tiny to see. These openings make it easier for HPV to get inside your body.

  7. Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in locker rooms, pool areas, and public showers. HPV thrives in warm, moist areas. When your skin is moist and soft, it’s easier to get infected with HPV. Shoes and flip-flops help protect your feet from the virus, which can prevent plantar warts on your feet.

    Wearing flip-flops can help prevent warts

    Wearing flip-flops or other shoes in moist areas, such as piers, pool decks, and public showers can reduce your risk of developing warts on your feet.

  8. Make sure your children get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine helps protect against genital warts and different cancers that could develop in the genital area. This vaccine is most protective when the person receives it before being exposed to the types of HPV that can cause genital warts and genital cancers. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for children.

  9. Treat hyperhidrosis. This is a medical condition that causes people to sweat excessively. People who have hyperhidrosis often sweat when other people feel comfortable or even cool. When people sweat frequently, their skin becomes damp and soft. Having damp, soft skin may increase the risk of getting HPV infection, which could lead to a wart.

When a dermatologist can help

While you can often clear a wart at home, some warts can be stubborn. If the person has a weakened immune system, it can be difficult to get rid of warts. Sometimes, what looks like a wart turns out to be a callus or another type of growth.

A board-certified dermatologist can help by:

  • Making sure that you or a family member has warts

  • Treating stubborn warts

Sometimes, warts can be stubborn, so they don’t clear with treatment that you can buy without a prescription. A dermatologist can create an effective treatment plan.

Tumpeter's wart

Musicians who play an instrument with their lips can develop a lump on their upper lip called a “trumpeter’s wart.” This is actually a callus that’s best left alone.

Related AAD resources


Images
Image 1: Getty images

Image 2: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: JAAD Case Rep. 2018;14;4(8):772-3.

References
Centers for Disease Control. “HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating your teen or preteen.” Page last reviewed August 23, 2018. Page last accessed December 17, 2018.

Kirnbauer R, Lenz P, et al. “Human papillomavirus.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1183.

Kunin, A. “Warts.” In: The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual. Simon & Schuster. United States, 2005:292-7.

Milgraum S, Gold E, et al. “The musician’s mark.” JAAD Case Rep. 2018;14;4(8):772-3.

Tasti A, Piraccini BM. “Nail disorders.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1030.

Walling HW. “Primary hyperhidrosis increases the risk of cutaneous infection: A case-control study of 387 patients.“ J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;61(2):242-6.

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