How Athletes Are Susceptible to Warts

Group of runners in a race How Athletes Are Susceptible to Warts

If you have an active lifestyle, you might be more susceptible to certain skin conditions like heat rash and athlete’s foot. And while sports aren’t the only cause, athletes may be more susceptible to warts as well. Here’s what all athletes should know about the causes, treatment, and prevention of warts.

What to Know About Warts and Athletes

What Causes Warts in Athletes?

Warts are a type of skin growth caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many strains of HPV, and about 60% of them cause warts on the hands and feet. Warts develop when one of these viruses enters the body through a cut on the skin. So, if athletes are walking barefoot on locker room floors or sharing equipment like gloves, the virus could enter the skin and cause a wart.

Some of the most common types of warts include:

  • Common Warts: These warts appear as a rough bump, typically on the fingers and toes.

  • Plantar Warts: Found on the soles of the feet, plantar warts grow into the skin and may cause pain when walking. Athletes are most likely to develop a plantar wart by picking up the virus in a shower, pool deck, or locker room.

  • Flat Warts: This type of wart most often appears on the arms, thighs, and face. Flat warts vary in color, and athletes might develop these when sharing helmets or padding.

  • Periungual Warts: These warts develop around or under the nails, so they might spread from shoes, socks, or gloves.

  • Filiform Warts: Typically found on the face and neck, these warts may resemble a skin tag.

If you notice a wart on your skin, it’s important to seek treatment. Otherwise, the wart could persist and cause discomfort during your sport.

What Treatments Are Available?

A dermatologist may recommend several treatments to eliminate warts. Two of the most common and effective wart removal treatments are cryotherapy and surgical removal. During cryotherapy, the doctor will freeze the wart using liquid nitrogen. This might cause some discomfort but typically isn’t painful.

If surgical removal is the better option, your dermatologist might cut the wart out through an excision process or burn it through electrosurgery. The right treatment for your wart will depend on your age, wart type, and spread of the warts. Be sure to contact your dermatologist if the wart doesn’t clear up in the time that they estimated.

How Can You Avoid Warts?

There are several steps you can take as an athlete to prevent the spread of warts. Be sure to always wear sandals when using the locker room, taking a shower, or walking on a pool deck. Change out of sweaty socks and shoes quickly. If you share equipment at the gym or with a team, be sure to always clean the equipment before and after using it. This will clear away any lingering viruses that might cause a wart.


Even if you’re taking preventative measures, warts and other skin conditions may still occur. The providers at Pacific Dermatology Specialists are available to diagnose and treat these conditions, so you can get back in the game. With locations in Carson, CA and other communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, we offer cosmetic, medical, and surgical services to support your skin health. Contact us today to book an appointment.

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