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While touching or kissing a garden toad won't give you warts (their bumps aren't really warts at all), can engaging in the same behaviors with a loved one pass warts on to me? The question: can I catch warts? Are warts contagious? It's a valid concern. Warts are, at best, harmless annoyances. They may occasionally get irritated when they form in places that get bumped frequently, and can be embarrassing and unsightly, but warts aren't dangerous. They are, unfortunately, contagious.
Warts are small, round growths that can form on any part of the body. They are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is the culprit in many other conditions, including cervical cancer, and is easily transmissible from one person to another through physical contact.
Can you avoid getting HPV? It's pretty unlikely. HPV is present in at least 50% of sexually active men and women, and in many children - it is NOT purely an STD, and is present in much of the population.
You can catch HPV, and develop warts, through physical contact with another's warts, so if you're concerned, that contact would best be avoided. You are more susceptible to virus transmission where you have breaks in the skin - including cuts, scrapes, and sores. Folks who bit their fingernails are at higher risk than those who don't due to the tiny breaks they cause in their fingertips in the process. This also explains why sexual contact can be such an efficient way to pass the virus.
Just touching a wart, though, doesn't guarantee that you'll grow a wart. The virus needs to get through your skin and take hold in order to turn into a wart - not an easy task, but common enough that the virus can be picked up from objects handled by someone with warts.
Now that you know how prevalent HPV can be, is there any way to avoid getting warts? Not for sure, but there are things you can do to reduce your chances:
- Wash your hands frequently. Washing helps to remove any viruses that have made it to your skin, but haven't found a way in yet. It also keeps you from passing this virus on to others.
- Avoid contact with warts whenever practical. Warts are harmless enough, though, that there's no reason.
- Keep open wounds, scrapes, or cuts clean, dry and covered. This is ALWAYS a good practice.
- Stop biting your nails. Nail biting opens up tiny openings through which the virus can pass.
- Wear shoes or sandals in shared shower facilities to avoid picking up germs and HPV from others.
- Always use clean, dry towels when swimming or bathing.
So, can you catch warts? Yeah, you can. If you've taken all of the correct precautions, but still got some warts, your next step is to seek out an effective removal method. Do your research well, as warts can be tough to get rid of without a solid, tested approach.
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