Game of Thrones declared to the masses that “Winter is Coming.” They weren’t lying. And while there may not be a war of fictionalized elf and warlock tribes set to do battle in the coming season, you may be at risk for something that looks like it was straight off a character’s face.
Skin gets chapped in the winter. Dry, cold climates encourage micro-abrasions and little cuts that allow infections to move in and run rampant. One such infection, which can be painful and rather unsightly, are warts.
Warts are the result of human papillomavirus (HPV) that sneaks into broken skin. You can get it from a swimming pool, gym floor, nail salon, door handle, or any other surface that happens to carry the virus. Once it’s in you, it sits dormant for a few weeks until a wart starts to appear at your skin’s surface.
The virus makes the skin in the infected area grow at an accelerated rate, which is why a bump forms. Sometimes, it pushes up nerve endings or blood vessels, marked by black dots. When pressure is applied, warts can be very painful.
Keeping your skin and immune system strong and healthy is central to minimizing your risk for warts. Having a skincare routine that includes keeping your hands and feet, in particular, hydrated and clean helps limit cracking and the potential for HPV to fester.
If wearing gloves, leave them on until you’re inside your destination, while being sure to wash and moisturize regularly. If you’re doing indoor swimming classes, wear flip-flops on your way to and from the pool, as well as in the locker room and shower. Healthy skin can keep viruses out.
Building a strong immune system that limits inflammation is also helpful. When inflammation is under control your body has the power to fight the HPV virus and reduce the likelihood of a wart forming. To keep inflammation down, focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet during the winter. This may have residual effects like a lower risk, or less severe symptoms, from seasonal illnesses like a cold.
Preventative action can help limit the risk of HPV infections and warts while helping you to stay healthy and comfortable through winter.