[Question #1545] wart transmission

44 months ago
Hello & thank you for your time. This is a great service you offer, w/out which I would probably still be lost in the confusion of the mostly outrageous information that is all over the Internet. I have posted previously re: concerns of transmission of flat warts from the hands to the genitals, & I've been greatly reassured by Dr. Hook's explanations. Life with small children is much easier without the nuisance of trying to wear nitrile gloves all the time!
Dr. Hook helped me understand that I should consider transmission via inanimate objects to be very rare & not an issue of concern. If it is alright, because I had become so worried before finding the forum, I would like to ask another specific question about a scenario. During my unfortunate forays on the Internet, I read that alcohol-based disinfectants do not destroy HPV, which has apparently created some concern surrounding sterilization of hospital equipment, etc. I realize the standard for safe cleanliness is much higher in a hospital due to the impaired nature of the patients & the invasive procedures they are undergoing. What I'm wondering is this: there are a couple surfaces in my home where I was "taking care of" my warts on a daily basis. Changing bandaids, applying salicylic acid, etc. 
1)Is there some special method or 
product I should use to cleanse those areas? Lysol Disinfecting Wipes? Or does it not really even matter if I clean them or not, since transmission via an inanimate object such as a table or dresser would be so unlikely? I'd like to stack clean laundry on one of the areas, but I'm still a little hesitant to set the kids' undergarments there. 
2)Similar question about the weights 
&exercise bands I use. Cleaning would be difficult and burdensome, but not 
impossible. Should I clean, or just not worry about it? I'm picturing my child 
sitting bare-bottomed on my exercise mat where I place my hands to do push-ups, etc. 
3)I do regrettably have another ?, but will save it for later due to space. 

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Welcome back to the forum and thanks again for your confidence in our services. However, you show evidence of extreme compulsion and anxiety about herpes, HPV and warts far and beyond normal.

As for transmission of warts and HPV in the environment, you are focused on finding biological explanations why the risk is low. I would suggest you ignore the biology entirely. Disregard whether soap, alcohol, or other disinfectants are effective. The important fact is that EVERYONE probably has HPV on their hands at sometime in life; even more have genital HPV infections, and all of those may temporarily have HPV on their fingers etc after touching the genital area; and yet nobody appears to ever catch HPV from environmental contact.

I'm also not clear on whether you actually have hand warts. Were they professionally diagnosed? Or biopsy confirmed? Hand warts are rare in adults, although common in young children, and numerous other conditions (and even normal variations in skin texture etc) can appear wart-like and are far more common. I haven't read your many other threads in detail, so forgive me if you have gone over this. But if not professionally diagnosed, I have to be skeptical you actually have warts on your hands. But the rest of the following comments assume the diagnosis is correct.

1) You need take no precautions at all. Just common sense hygiene is fine. You're never going to give your kids warts by handling their laundry.

2) If weights and other work-out equipment is likely to be used by other persons, they should be wiped clean with a damp soapy sponge or any common cleaner (lysol, 409, windex, etc.) The main benefit is to prevent transmission of common colds etc, not HPV -- although such cleaning might also reduce the already near-zero chance of HPV transmission.

3) Just as these answers should have been obvious from the previous replies you have had on the forum, I'm betting that the additional question on your mind has an obvious answer that you know or can figure out.

Your kids may well have HPV of the hands someday, and they are going to get genital HPV infections once they become sexually active. HPV is unavoidable, part of life. As kids, their risk will be from friends and classmates, not from you or your household (even if you have warts of your hands). When they start having sex, the risk will be from their sex partners. This too simply cannot be avoided. Everyone should be vaccinated for protection against the 9 HPV types that cause most important health outcomes, but there is no protection against the other hundred or so types that are out there. It's just part of life.

Finally, abnormal fear of contamination ("germophobia") can be an early sign of serious mental health disability. If fears like this -- whether focused on HPV, herpes, and/or other germs are interfering with day to day life and happiness, please seek counseling about it. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism. (The Aviator, the biographical movie about Howard Hughes, is an excellent illustration of where this sort of phobia can lead.)

I hope these comments have been helpful. Best wishes.