Q&A

If a nail technician works on a client with warts on her hands or feet, will she get the virus?

Q.

If a nail technician works on a client with warts on her hands or feet, will she get the virus? Should she take any precautions?

A.

Dr. Rich: A virus called the human papilla virus, of which there are more than 50 different strains, causes warts. The current belief is that warts are “caught” when susceptible people come in contact with the virus. The most common mode of transmission is by skin-to-skin contact; however, it may be possible to pick up plantar warts from the floor of a shower or locker room. Not much is known about what makes people susceptible, but it probably has to do with the immune system. If a nail technician wears gloves when she works on clients with warts, she should be safe. As always, she must be scrupulous about disinfecting her instruments as well. – Phoebe Rich, M.D.

Dr. Mix: Warts of the hands and feet are estimated to affect 10% of the population. Viral particles invade the skin through direct inoculation which may be caused by occupational injuries, friction, nail biting, and scratching. An open sore or cut that creates a “portal of entry” for the virus can also be the opening for the virus to start an infection. In theory, a nail technician can get a wart from a client she works on. In practice, however, there is very little probability of contracting the virus. – Godfrey Mix, D.P.M

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