We’ve received a couple of follow up questions from a BuckMD reader on our last post about warts, and clearly this individual has excellent taste in writing:
Thanks for another great article. I like your writing style. It almost sounds like the warts are more infectious after treatment than before. Is that true?
Also, one more follow-up question if you don’t mind: when the warts are removed, is the HPV virus still present in the body, or does it go away with the warts?
Who knew warts were such a popular topic!? We may have to petition whoever’s in charge of these things to make August national wart awareness month. Anyway, to answer the questions:
The warts are not more infectious after treatment than before. Assuming a good application, whatever part of the warty skin gets hit by the treatment (freezing, acid) is dead and the virus within it is dead and therefore no longer infectious. It’s just that the virus may also be on surrounding parts of the skin that look normal and if they aren’t hit by the treatment, then that remaining virus can cause new warts to form.
That kind of answers your second question as well. The HPV virus is never “in” the body – it only lives on the surface of the skin. It can be there and never cause a wart at all, and for most people it goes away on its own within 2 years. So if a wart goes away on its own, you can safely assume that the HPV virus has gone away too. If the wart goes away because of getting it treated, the virus may still be present on other parts of the surrounding skin and cause more warts to form in the future.
Again, we can offer you lots of effective treatment options at the Student Health Center so if you’re having trouble with pesky, persistent warts, come on in and see us.
John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University