Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on August 30, 2012

Sources

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Emory University Hospital, American Academy of Dermatology

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Video Transcript

Narrator: Some of the myths surrounding how people get and spread warts might read a bit like a fairy tale. So we've asked an expert to help us sort out fact from fiction… True or false: you can get warts by touching a frog or toad.

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: False. You can not get warts from touching a frog or toad.

Narrator: True or false: warts are contagious…

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: Warts are a virus and they're caused by a DNA-based virus that is contagious from person to person.

Narrator: Generally, the virus is transferred through a break in the skin. This is one reason why children, who are more prone to scrapes, scratches and close play often get warts. True or false: adults don't get warts.

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: False. Adults can get warts. Adults have much better immunity to virus than children. And so children are therefore more predisposed to getting warts more rapidly than adults.

Narrator: However, if an adult's immune system has been somehow compromised, say through illness or treatment with certain drugs, they can be as susceptible as children. True or false: Warts can appear anywhere on your body.

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: Wherever there's skin you can get a wart.

Narrator: So a palmer's wart on your hand is essentially no different than a planter's wart on your foot… True or false: Warts have seeds or roots.

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: False. Warts don't have roots or seeds. The virus can move or 'seed' in the skin and 'seed' new warts, but it's the virus that's moving and you're using the word 'seed' in a different way.

Narrator: True or false: There's nothing you can do to avoid getting warts

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: False. There are things people can do to prevent the wart virus.

Narrator: Most notably, don't pick at a wart or touch one on someone else. Also, avoid sharing personal grooming items—especially with someone who has been exposed to the virus. Be sure to wear proper footwear around public pools or showers. And maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes proper amounts of nutrients, exercise and sleep to keep your immune system running at full throttle. But if you do get a wart, treatment usually starts with over the counter remedies. If the wart proves stubborn or multiplies you should see a dermatologist.

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: Generally, destruction of the wart removes the bulk of the wart virus and allows the patient to overcome the remainder of the wart virus that's left.

Narrator: That is if your immune system is strong it should do the rest of job on its own. And for those more chronic cases…

Harold J. Brody, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology: Today, dermatologists have new treatments called 'immuno treatments', 'immuno therapy' and we have agents that goose up the patient's immunity and allow the wart to be defeated.

Narrator: Warts or not… we still wouldn't recommend kissing a frog. For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg