08 Sep Are Plantar Warts Contagious?
Warts are noncancerous growths that can occur all over the body. When they occur on the feet they are called plantar warts. Plantar warts are very common. In fact, they have an incidence of 14% in the United States. Plantar warts are caused by human papillomavirus. Sometimes they disappear on their own but other times they may require medical attention. In most cases, warts can be left alone as long as they are not causing the patient pain. One of the most common questions is, “Are plantar warts contagious?”
Plantar warts typically occur in weight-bearing places such as the heel of the foot. While most wars grow outwards, these warts grow inwards due to the weight. Over time, if these warts do not go away on their own, they can become painful and uncomfortable. If you are suffering from plantar warts that have begun to affect your quality of life, a trip to the podiatrist can help to remove them or offer some relief.
Some of the tell-tale signs of plantar warts include a small and rough grainy growth on the bottom of the foot, a hard and thickened callous over the growth, black pinpoints in the wart, and pain and tenderness when walking. Plantar warts are spread from person to person and thus, are in fact contagious. While plantar warts are not as highly contagious as other kinds of warts, they can still spread person to person.
Plantar warts are caused by HPV. The virus typically enters the body through small cuts on the bottom of the foot, thus causing plantar warts. HPV is a common virus and there are over 100 different strands that exist. However, these different strands of HPV produce warts in different areas of the body. HPV is unique in that it affects all people differently. Some people may be exposed to the virus and never develop warts, while others may be exposed once and develop multiple warts.
In normal environments, the strain of HPV that causes plantar warts is not highly contagious. Therefore, simply touching a plantar wart is not enough to become infected. However, the strain of HPV that causes plantar warts thrives in warm and wet environments. Therefore, locker rooms, communal showers, and the like are breeding grounds for the virus. If you are in these areas, it is important to always wear shoes and keep your feet as clean as possible.
Plantar warts are contagious. However, there are ways to minimize their spread. Fortunately, the strand of HPV that causes plantar warts is not highly contagious in normal environments. But, if you find yourself spending a lot of time in locker rooms, saunas, or communal showers as might be the case for high school and college-age individuals, you should take proper precautions to protect your feet. Small injuries or cuts may be enough to allow the virus to enter your body and begin the development of plantar warts. Plantar warts can grow to be painful and uncomfortable. Therefore, prevention is the best step you can take in dealing with them.