Dating back to pre-school I remember being told not to play with the frogs or toads, because if I did I would get warts! Odds are you have also been told this tale that touching or being peed on by a toad or a frog will give you warts. With a tale that can be traced back to old folklore and passed down to each generation, one begins to question the truthfulness behind the information. With some quick digging it was easy to find that the truth is…frogs and toads should be no concern at all when it comes to contracting warts.
According to dermatologist Jerry Litt, “Warts are caused by a human virus, not frogs or toads.” (3) This human virus is well known today as HPV or human papillomavirus. Founded in 1949, HPV has been the only known source to cause warts and there has been as many as 150 sub-types of HPV discovered. (1) Within the subtypes, the virus can affect different locations on the body for different strands of HPV. We use the specific location of infection to then classify the types of wart; examples of this are genital warts and plantar warts. (2)
Additional support that debunks the old tale is that humans are the only reservoir of HPV, because of this toads or frogs are unable to carry the virus and thus we cannot contract it from handling them. (2) We can contract the virus from someone else through via direct transmission with the site of the infection, the warts.More alarming though is that we can transmit the virus by indirect measures because the virus is able to survive on surfaces by infected skin cells. (2) This is why we are always reminded to wear proper footwear when in moist environments, like public showers, were contracting HPV and getting plantar warts can be highly likely.
Even though the virus can remain on other contact surfaces, I found no evidence supporting that HPV can occur on frogs. Instead studies have shown that their skin helps protect them from things like parasites, fungus, and bacterial infections. (1) On the other hand, depending on the species of frogs or toads there may be other harmful substances on a frog or toad. For example: some toad’s parotid glands behind their ears release a poison that is meant to defend off predators, but it can often irritate the skin when humans are exposed. (3) Though warts are not a concern, one should still use caution when handling any animal do to other unknowns.
So even though it is clear that warts and frogs (or toads) do not go hand in hand, some people will still believe that they do and the myth with still persist in society like it has for many centuries. Personal I believe this to be by people judging a toad by its bumps.
Meaning people are quick to assume that ‘the toad has warts and if I touch it I will get warts too’. However, if one just does a little research like I did they will quickly realize how this is just another myth created and passed down from those before us.
For more information on HPV click here.