Common Warts Overview

Spreading of Common Warts

Common warts spread easily -- kind of like the common cold. Why some people get them and others don't is a mystery. However, it's clear that if you have a weakened immune system, you are more susceptible to warts. An HPV infection triggers the creation of antibodies that fight the virus, and someone with a weakened immune system may not be as successful at creating these antibodies.

There are a variety of ways for common warts to spread. No matter the method of transmission, they're more likely to infect you if you've got breaks in your skin. One possible route to infection is through person-to-person physical contact. However, touching someone else's wart doesn't automatically guarantee that you'll get warts yourself -- the chances of this happening are actually fairly slim [source: Mayo Clinic].

Person-to-object transmission is a more common way for warts to spread. If you come into contact with items that someone who's infected with HPV has touched, you're at risk for developing common warts. Use caution when handling shared towels, bath mats and razors, as HPV can thrive in these damp objects.

You can get warts from other people or things, but you can also give them to yourself. If you already have common warts, you can spread them to other places on your own body, especially where there are breaks in the skin. Biting your nails or picking at hangnails might cause warts to break out around your nails or on your fingertips.

Unfortunately, there's no way to completely avoid exposure to HPV, and once you have it, you're at risk for developing common warts. Reduce your chances of getting common warts by making sure you know what precautions you can take, which you can learn about on the next page.