Preventive Maintenance: Warts and all

by Karen Bowen

Be careful as you travel the roads, or you may develop warts. Because you often use shared items: motel rooms, truck stop showers, even your rig, your job makes you susceptible to the human papillomavirus, which can give you warts.

When a human papillomavirus infects the outside layer of skin, those skin cells can start to grow rapidly, creating a wart.

Most types of this virus like to grow in warm, moist environments, like showers, locker room floors, and around hot tubs and swimming pools.

But, not everyone who comes in contact with this virus gets warts. It just depends on their virus-fighting ability and their immune system.

However, if you’re going to get a wart it will usually start in a break in the skin – a cut, hangnail, closely bitten nail, or scrape and sometimes, on your feet, especially after a swim, because they are moist and soft, and often scraped and broken by rough pool surfaces.

Warts come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

They may be a bump with a rough surface, or they may be flat and smooth, depending on the type.

As you might guess, ‘Common Warts’ are the most common. They are usually found on the hands (but can be found on any part of the body), individually or in groups.

They are usually rough, dome-shaped growths that are gray-brown in colour.

Another type of wart, found on the hands is the ‘Periungal Wart.’ These grow under and around the toenails and fingernails and can affect nail growth. They look like rough, irregular bumps.

‘Plantar Warts’ are also well-known and are found on any part of the foot. When you look one, you may see dark specks just under the wart’s surface. These are small blood vessels feeding the wart.

Over time, as you walk or stand on a plantar wart, your body’s weight pushes the wart deeper into the foot tissue.

Then, you develop a layer of thick, tough skin (like a callus) over it. As the callus and wart get larger, walking can become painful (not to mention jumping out of your rig).

When many plantar warts form a large, flat cluster, they’re called a ‘Mosaic Wart.’

Another type of wart usually found on the face, arms, or legs is called a ‘Flat Wart.’ These are small (usually smaller than the eraser on the end of a pencil), and they usually grow in clusters.

They have flat tops and can be pink, light brown or light yellow. A specific type of flat wart is a ‘Filliform Wart.’

This type grows on the face in the mouth, nose, and beard area. The surface of this type of wart has many flesh-coloured, fingerlike projections.

Although unattractive, it is not usually necessary to treat any of these types of warts. Usually your body can fight off the virus over time (usually within a year). However, many people prefer not to wait. For them, there are a variety of effective treatments available. (However, don’t self-treat if you have diabetes or circulation problems; go to your doctor, instead.)

Currently, salicylic acid is the most desirable wart treatment because it is effective, safe, and economical. Although the treatment takes two to three months, it is at least as effective as every other treatment, with a lower risk and less pain. Salicylic acid comes as a paint, cream, plaster, tape, or patch that you put on the wart. Some products include: Compound W Wart Remover, Occlusal, and Salacid.

The next treatment, tape occlusion, is probably a favourite of ‘Red Green.’ For this treatment, you continuously cover the wart with duct tape for one to two months. After that period of time, when you remove the duct tape, the wart comes off with it.

Nonprescription cryotherapy (freezing) is another option. In the past, this was usually done at the doctor’s.

Now, you can use this to treat common warts on your hands and feet at home. This type of product can be bought at the drug store. However, it’s not for children under four years of age, or pregnant/nursing women.

Two folk remedies which are said to be effective are rubbing the wart with a bean, or a raw potato. This also takes many months.

But, why not just avoid them altogether. How? Don’t touch any warts (yours or others). Don’t share razors, towels, socks, or shoes with anyone.

Don’t walk barefoot on warm, moist surfaces. Instead, wear shower shoes when using public showers, locker rooms, or pool areas.

Keep your feet dry; if your feet sweat, get absorbent socks that wick the moisture away. Protect the soles of your feet. And finally, don’t bite your nails or cuticles.

As a truck driver, you’re probably out of the usual age-range for warts (up to the late teens), but, you’re not immune. Avoid bumps: on the road and on your skin.

Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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