Beneath the Surface

Dive Deeper With Our Dermatology Blog

Why are Witches and Warts Often Associated?

It’s a good thing we live in today’s modern times of health care awareness! In the 17th century, according to JAMA Dermatology, warts were seen as the “devil’s mark” and help justified accusations of witchcraft. In reality, people may have been more prone to warts back then due to poor hygiene. Another folk belief is that warts will appear from handling a toad.

Most people at some point or another will have at least one common skin wart, which usually appears on their hands. What is a common wart? It is an infection in the top layer of skin, caused by he human papillomavirus, or HPV, viral family.

Warts on hand

If you have any type of skin wart, it means that you came in contact with a wart-causing virus sometime in the past – it could have even been months ago. People get warts most commonly from other people with warts, not from frogs or toads. Direct skin-to-skin contact is often the culprit (like shaking hands with someone who has warts on their hand), but you can also get the virus from inanimate objects that have been used by someone with a wart. So, the most important thing to remember is that warts are contagious.

How to Prevent Warts

To prevent warts from spreading, dermatologists recommend:

  • Avoid picking or scratching at warts
  • Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in public showers, locker rooms, and pool areas
  • Never touch someone’s wart
  • Keep foot warts dry – moisture tends to allow warts to spread
  • Practice good hand-hygiene

The good news is that dermatologists can tell whether you have a wart just by looking at it. In very rare cases, a doctor may need to perform a biopsy to be certain. In some cases, warts will go away without treatment. This is especially true when children get warts. However, warts may not disappear as easily or quickly in adults. A good rule to follow is to seek care from a dermatologist if the wart doesn’t go away on its own, if warts hurt, or if you have several warts.

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