Warts Prevention

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus consisting of over 100 strains. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 million people in the U.S. have HPV with about six million more developing new infections each year. Some of the HPV strains don’t cause any symptoms at all while some stains are causes of warts. HPV types 16 and 18 are linked to cervical cancer.

Although your immune system frequently triumphs over HPV and the strains that are the causes of warts, currently no cure for HPV exists. Preventing warts, therefore, is easier than treating them.

Common Wart Causes

If you get a wart, start treating it right away. Warts are very contagious and can spread on your own skin, or someone else’s.

Warts develop when HPV gets past your body’s defenses, usually through a break in your skin. Warts often spread on skin irritated by shaving or scratching. They appear on men’s faces, women’s legs and on the fingertips of those who bite their nails.

Sharing towels, socks and other footwear with people who have them are causes of warts spreading from one person to another.

Tips on Preventing Warts

Although locker rooms, public pools and biting your fingernails aren’t actual common wart causes, they help to spread warts. Experts recommend several methods for preventing warts:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing warts.
  • Don’t bite or pick at your fingernails.
  • Don’t shave areas with warts.
  • Don’t use the same manicure tools on your healthy nails as you do on your warts.
  • Use condoms during sex to prevent the spread of genital warts, although they don’t offer complete HPV protection.
  • Wash your hands after touching warts.
  • Wear flip-flops or water shoes around pools, locker rooms and public bathing areas.

Genital Wart Vaccine

A genital wart vaccine has been developed to protect against the HPV strains that cause genital warts, as well as cervical and some vaginal cancers in women and penile cancer in men.

Gardisil®, the brand name for the genital wart vaccine, has been approved for use by females between 11 and 26 years old, and males between the ages of 9 and 26.

The genital wart vaccine is administered through a series of three shots. It is most effective if given before an individual has been exposed to HPV, so people are advised to get these shots before they become sexually active.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Genital HPV infection: CDC fact sheet. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm.

Healthy-skincare.com. (n.d.). Wart removal and wart prevention. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from: http://www.healthy-skincare.com/wart-removal.html.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Prevention. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-warts/DS00370/DSECTION=prevention.

Warts Information Center. (2010). Gardasil: The HPV solution? Retrieved June 23, 2010, from: http://www.warts.org/gardasil.htm.