Warts Myths

Even though scientists know why warts are contagious, warts spread and respond to treatment in unpredictable ways, so folk tales and myths abound about the best cure for warts. The belief that frogs cause warts is one of the more common myths about warts.

Warts are among the world’s most common skin problems. All warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Warts are contagious, and spread through skin-to-skin contact or when HPV from a floor or other surface gets past the body’s defenses through breaks in the skin.

Some people who are exposed to HPV will develop warts and some won’t; still others develop warts or other symptoms days, weeks or months after exposure.

Many warts go away on their own, without treatment, six months to two years after they develop. Others hang on for years, no matter what you do.

Doctors Can Use Myths

Sometimes doctors use the power of the human mind combined with myths to create a cure for warts, especially with children. Pediatric practitioners have used many successful methods to rid their young patients of warts, including:

  • Painting warts to glow in the dark
  • Shining a laser pointer at warts
  • Waving a colored chopstick at the wart.

In these cases, of course, the patient’s own immune system supplies the real cure for warts, but believing in the myths can’t hurt. Medical textbooks even discuss the practice of “charming warts” as a cure for warts on children.

A Voodoo Cure for Warts?

A cure for warts may come from a great aunt, a grandfather or elders who know “the old ways.” (Each one seems to have a lot more heft than the myth that frogs cause warts.) A cure for warts is passed from generation to generation, and the disappearance of the warts is attributed to the cure.

Some of the best-known myths include these:

  • Rub a penny on your warts.
  • Rub a raw potato on your warts. Bury the potato and don’t tell anyone where it is.
  • Scrub the wart with a rag and bury the rag. If you bury it on someone else’s property, they’ll get the warts.
  • Tie a knot in white cotton thread for each wart. Bury it, and when the string rots, your warts will disappear.

Myths about a cure for warts are even found in literature. Mark Twain wrote about taking your cat to a graveyard where somebody evil was buried, listening for devils and then throwing your cat at the devils, while chanting “Devil follow corpse, cat follow devil, warts follow cat, I’m done with ye!”

Resources

Health 911. (n.d.). Voodoo wart remedies. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/warts8.html#VOODOOREMEDIES_32215.

Healthcommunities.com. (2007). Warts—overview, causes. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from: http://www.dermatologychannel.net/viral_infection/warts.shtml.

MotherNature.com. (n.d.). Warts. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from: http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/47/137.cfm.

Rister, R. (2010). Thirteen natural wart remedies for home wart removal. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from: http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/Thirteen_Natural_Home_Remedies_for_Warts_Removal_a1248.html.