Can a wart on my finger spread to my genitals?

common wart

plantar wart

Q: Can a wart on my finger spread to my genital area?

A:  All warts (or “verrucae”) are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  On the hands, they’re referred to as common warts; on the bottom of the feet they’re called plantar warts; around the fingernails they’re called periungual warts; on the genitals or around the anal area they’re called genital warts.

Take a deep breath… I know those 3 little letters strike fear in the hearts of all college and grad students, especially those who are sexually active, but there are over 150 distinct strains of HPV and they all prefer certain body parts and skin types.  For instance, HPV-1 has a foot fetish and causes plantar warts while HPV 6 and 11 prefer to hang out in the “junk yard” and cause genital warts. 

So while you technically have HPV on your finger – which I know is creepy to think about – it really likes the neighborhood and has no plans to move down to the “Short North” so to speak.  I know the blogosphere and wiki-land is ripe with people who swear that they got genital warts from fingers (either their own or someone else’s) – and while the mysterious nature of life (and fear of lawyers) preclude me from “never saying never” – the odds of that really happening are extremely small.

On the surface (ha ha) warts seem like a silly thing to worry about, but they can become a serious emotional issue – the thought of being “infected” by anything can make you feel gross and the fact that they are visible and are spread by skin-to-skin contact can make them especially embarrassing and even affect relationships.  But it’s very important to remember that besides the strains of HPV that cause cervical and some other extremely rare types of cancer, warts are only a cosmetic issue.  They are not a threat to your health or the health of your partners, and they almost all clear on their own within a year or two.

And the good news is that if you don’t want to wait that long, there are pretty good treatment options available at the Student Health Center to get rid of them quicker.  I’ll talk about them in my next post, but for now, rest assured that you don’t need to wear gloves every time you go to the bathroom!

All photos:

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

17 thoughts on “Can a wart on my finger spread to my genitals?

  1. I have warts on my hands and Now I am pretty afraid cuz i can feel i little swollen circle on my genitals.I’m 17 and i never have sex with anyone before . Help me is it possible that the warts on my hand spread out on my genital?

    • Similar situation, havent had sex innmonths noticed wart on my middle finger and then couple weeks later warts on my junk where my middle finger hangs out. Perhaps hand to genital infection is more common? Or my SO back in college had them pretty well hidden and these are late sprouters.

    • HPV that causes grnital warts is sexually transmitted; however, any time you notice an abnormality, you should see your physician so you can get diagnosed and treated if necessary. No one likes going to their doctor for such things, but it’s necessary sometimes. If you are worried about HPV, you can get vaccinated against the strains that cause genital warts and cervical cancer before you become sexually active. There are many strains of HPV, but they tend to stay localized rather than spread to other parts of the body.

    • IF you have never had sexual contact its impossible, relax. I am 30 and through out my whole life I have periodically gotten big cyst-like bumps deep in the skin at the base of my ball sack and ‘Ive had a doctor check one out before and they are normal, not HPV

  2. I think HPV has many strains and its possible that strain has the genital warts in it, so its also possible that even if you not sexually active you can have genital wart if you just have common warts.

  3. Those low risk genotype causes warts on fingers and hands, but whAt would happen if there’s high risk hpv that cause cancer such as 16and 18? I’ve diagnosed 4 types of high risk hpv that could cause cervical cancer , I’ve got a bad habit biting my nails till it bleeds, do you think there’s any chance the high risk hpv will transmitted through the open wound of my fingers?

  4. I had warts around my finger nails when I was about 14 and they of course told me I had hpv, which back then was thought to be strictly a std it seems like. Anyway I never ever ever had warts on my genitalia. I dealt with the virus on my fingers for a few years and it never left the nail area so fret not.

  5. I had a wart on my index finger about 6 months ago, I had it frozen off and I recently just noticed a small swollen circle on my genital. I haven’t had intercourse just oral (given and received)… she is clean but she did start having UTI the first time we did it but it stopped. I ignored the circle for a week or two now and it seems to get smaller but it still worries me.

  6. This information is outdated and wrong. I was diagnosed with common warts. They spread to my genitals.

    I would have been more careful if I had known the risk existed. Instead Doctors keep posting the same misinformation that this type of transmission is either rare or not possible.

  7. My personal experience differed completely from the Doctor’s medical opinion.

    I was diagnosed with common warts on my hands by a dermatologist. I had them for several months so they turned into rough growths.

    I touched the area after reading several posts online stating the same thing; that its unlikely warts would spread from the hands to the genital region. Then 2 months later, a small white bump appeared on my skin of my genitals. (Not sexually active, so I know its not from an STD, or genital warts)

    Seems there is a lot of disagreement on the likelihood of hand to genital transfer. But its probably higher than the Doctor is letting on. My dermatologist also believed the same thing, that it was unlikely to happen. And any treatment to the genital region will leave a mark, so better not risk it.

  8. The answer is yes. Warts spread from skin to skin contact. They can and will spread from your fingers to your privates, regardless of how “unlikely” it is. Eliminate warts ASAP to avoid spreading them.

  9. I think I got HPV (anal condyloma) by touching someone elses lesion (lets say strain 6 or 11) with my fingers unknowingly and then touched myself in that same area. Is this possible to get/spread strains such as 6 or 11 by doing this?

  10. i have a wart in my skin the thing is when i touch the wart in my knee then forgot to wash my hand..the problem right now is that some uncommon abnormal tissue is beginning to sprout in the base of my pennis which im sure that this is the cause of it..touching my private part…. i hope it will be cure

  11. Okay so I am a 15 girl, and I have a wart on my middle finger, and about 6-8 months ago I noticed a bump in my vagina, It’s like one SINGLE wart, it doesn’t hurt or feel itchy, and I am a virgin, any thoughts on what this could be??

  12. I read one medical article which states that common wart number 2 can be spread to the genitalia. Have any Warts treated by a dermatologist right away before they get deep and before they spread to other areas. It’s easier to get rid of a wart that just formed. Compound W only works if the wart is not that deep. If you just got the wart, you can freeze it every two days or until you see a blister form. Put a dry bandage on the wart to prevent the wart blister from breaking. Do not touch area. Takes 3 weeks to kill the wart virus if a blister forms. If it didn’t kill it, it must be deeper. Then you might need multiple freezes. Liquid nitrogen is stronger than over the counter freezing products.

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