Are warts still contagious after treatment?

common wart

When removing the dead skin after treating a wart with salicylic acid, is that area of the hand still contagious with the HPV virus? If so, how can I reduce the chances of spreading the wart?

Another great question from a loyal BuckMD reader!  And on one of our favorite – and creepiest – topics.  We’ve covered how to get rid of warts and whether or not warts from the hand can spread to more private areas, but we’ve never talked about whether or not they can spread while you’re getting rid of them. 

There are a lot of different treatment options for warts, and while they may differ based upon location and other factors, the goal for most of them is to destroy the warty epidermis (top layer of skin) and the virus within it.  After a treatment, the skin will blister or get irritated and eventually slough off.  That skin is dead and so is the virus within it so it isn’t contagious anymore.  Unfortunately, even though the skin around the area of treatment may look normal, there is often virus still present in it. 

So to answer your question – yes, that area of the hand can still be contagious with HPV virus even after treatment.  Since warts are spread by skin-to-skin contact, the best way to prevent further spread is to keep it covered up in between treatments.

We try to extend the area of treatment to include the normal skin right around the wart to prevent this from happening, but HPV is microscopic so it’s impossible to tell whether we’ve gotten it all.  This is why it usually takes several weeks and multiple treatments to get rid of them.

When dealing with warts, you have to be patient and persistent.  But look on the bright side – while they are annoying, common warts are not dangerous and even if you don’t do anything to them, they’ll go away on their own within 2 years in up to two-thirds of people. 

If you’re having trouble with warts, or any other skin problems, come in to see us at Student Health – we’re always happy to help you out!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

10 thoughts on “Are warts still contagious after treatment?

  1. ms. tina, i have undergone electro-cautery procedure for my palmer wart 3 days ago. I tried to avoid my palm from getting wet in the past 3 days too because I worry that i might infect other areas when taking a shower. My question now is this: is my palm still safe? can i touch my other parts of the body without infecting them during my bath?

    • If the electrocautery procedure has done it’s job, it should have killed the wart and it is no longer contagious. You should be good to go.

  2. I had a couple warts on my hand froze with nitrogen at the doctor about 4 days ago. She told me to start using the over the counter stuff that comes in the brown bottle and apply it nightly until the warts are gone and 2-3 days after the visit. I have done such, I’m just curious to if I have to keep my palm where the wart is covered, if I should avoid baths, doing dishes, touching things, to avoid spreading the virus?
    And if I touch a surface, can others catch the virus? Or if I touch someone else?

  3. I had many warts on my chin and got them removed with laser. After a while under magnification my dermatologist saw one more and removed it with laser too as well as treated with laser 3-4 other spots, just to be sure she said. How much time should it pass till to be safe to say that I am not contagious anymore? Also one scar is close to my lower lip, it bleeded and I licked the blood spontaneously. Can I pass the virus into my mouth? And also is it safe to kiss my boyfriend or deal with his most private areas since the spots are so close to my lower lip?

  4. Hi I just had two warts removed surgically a couple days ago is it ok to take baths and such I had one on my foot and one on my thumb just wondering cause they were burned off but there’s some blood and such.

  5. I had I wart on my chin then got it frozen off it fell while I was swimming. But there’s still a white bump surrounding a hole type thing. Is the wart gone or is the white bump still part of the wart?

  6. I’m scared I have genital warts around my butt hole I go to the doctor tomorrow and I might have to get laser treatment will it still be contagious after its gone….

  7. I have genital warts on my butt hole I might have to get laser treatment will it still be contagious afterwards

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