The problem with warts is that often they are difficult to get rid of. It can happen that even after a wart shrinks or disappears, your warts may return or spread to other parts of the body. This is because most treatments only destroy the wart – they cannot kill the virus that causes the wart. This is when you get recurring warts.
As you get older, you may find that you become less likely to get warts or recurring warts. Warts become less common in older people probably because their immune system develops immunity over time.
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The virus that causes warts, and then recurring warts, is called human papilloma virus or HPV. It enters the skin through very small cuts or wounds. Once in the skin, it may be destroyed by a strong immune system but if you are immune deficient for any reason, the virus can get a foothold. Some children or adults are more likely to get warts than others if their immune system is less efficient. When the virus enters the body, your immune system will create antibodies in order to destroy the virus. But these may not be strong enough to do the job if you have an impaired immune system.
Warts are contagious and the virus is easily spread. Once you have the warts virus, you can infect yourself again by touching the wart and then touching another part of your body. You can also infect another person through the sharing of towels, razors or any personal or intimate items.
Even if you have the warts virus, it can take many months before a wart is noticed. In some people, they just become carriers of the virus and never have visible warts.
There are some risk factors that you can control to try and avoid both warts in the first place or recurring warts if you have already had them in the past.
- Public showers and other places with damp warm surfaces such as locker rooms or the areas around swimming pools provide the perfect breeding ground for picking up the warts virus. So be aware of this and always keep on some sort of footwear.
- Take care not to share personal items.
- Avoid touching warts on either yourself or someone else. If you do so, wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water.
- Be careful not to bite your nails or cuticles.
- A wart may return after surgery because surgery removes the wart but does not destroy the human papilloma virus that causes the wart.
- If you have a history of warts that recur, you may want to discuss more aggressive ways of treating these recurring warts with your doctor or health care provider.
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