Could the warts on my hands cause genital warts?
I have warts on my hands and fingers. If I touch my girlfriend’s genitals, could I give her genital warts?
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 20, 2011
I’m glad you asked this question. The difference between warts on your hands and warts on your genitals is an important question that a lot of people have.
It’s unlikely that the warts on your hands could give your girlfriend genital warts. That’s because there are over 100 types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s important to understand that the types of HPV really only cause problems in specific parts of the body...and the type of HPV that causes the warts on your hands and feet doesn’t generally infect the genital area.
That said, there is a small risk of passing the warts to your girlfriend. Even though we know a lot about HPV, we have more to learn. So, to be on the safe side, I recommend you avoid touching your girlfriend’s genitals with your hands. Or, use protection...like latex gloves.
Also practice safer sex with other kinds of sexual activity. To prevent the possibility of spreading other STDs, too, use a condom any time you have vaginal or anal sex with your girlfriend. And, if you perform oral sex on each other, also use condoms and dental dams to reduce the risk of possible sexually transmitted infections. For more about practicing safer sex ⎼ including regular STD testing for you and your girlfriend ⎼ see our Prevention + Safer Sex Overview.
Thanks again for writing, and I wish you and your girlfriend the best of health.
Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.