Warts are an annoyance that many of us deal with at one time or another, but for athletes, the risk is much higher. With lots of exercise comes warm body temperatures, sweat, and contact with others that create the conditions for a wart to grow. Luckily, the ways to deal with warts are the same for everyone, so knowing how to avoid them is the first step in improving the quality of your active life.
Warts are transmitted by a virus, the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. Like other viruses, it causes cell overgrowth, in this case of skin cells. Warts aren’t necessarily painful, but they are itchy since the built-up skin isn’t being shed, and they continue to grow rapidly. A wart spreads when someone who has the infection sheds skin that contains the virus and someone comes into contact with the shed virus. This usually happens in warm, moist places like showers, saunas, and locker rooms, where the virus can stick for a while and where athletes spend a fair amount of their time.
When people exercise often, a lot of strain and friction is put on the hands and feet, and this is one of the reasons warts show up in those places most frequently. Blisters can develop on our hands from lifting weights or using equipment, breaking the skin and providing an entry for the wart virus that might be present on shared items. Using gloves is one way to help avoid hand warts.
Our feet are prone to blisters as well, and when we wear shoes all day, our feet stay warm and our socks absorb the sweat. Athletes contracting a plantar wart on the foot is extremely common. This environment can also grow a fungal infection and creates the conditions for the virus to develop. Similarly, the groin area is susceptible to warts since there is a lot of friction and warm moisture in the area when we work out, and it may be exposed to others during sexual contact. Not washing clothes frequently enough is another way for the virus to remain close to your skin.
There are several products available at stores that you can get to treat a wart at home, but checking with your dermatologist which brand would be best for your case will always be helpful in choosing the right one. The most effective choices are made with salicylic acid, which dries up the skin and helps remove the wart.
Professional treatments for wart removal include electrodesiccation and curettage, which use an electric needle to cut away and destroy the wart. Laser surgery is another option that vaporizes a wart. Other treatments include getting an HPV vaccine as prevention or treatment, and other medications can be administered to subdue the wart virus.
Warts are a common problem, so if you’re an athlete, you should give extra care and take precautions to try to avoid them as much as possible. When they do show up, don’t worry! There aren’t many complications from warts. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists to find the right wart treatment for you.