What’s the Deal with Warts?

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Warts in Children

Even though many associate warts with old age, kids actually get warts more often than adults do. Warts are contagious — it’s possible to get an infection that causes a wart by touching something that someone with a wart has just touched. However, it’s important to remember that even though warts are uncomfortable, they’re usually not medically problematic.

If your child gets a wart, make sure he or she does not pick, rub, or scratch it. The best practice is to cover the wart, if possible. Here’s a quick parent’s guide to warts and wart care.

What are Warts?

A wart is non-cancerous skin growth. It appears as a small area (usually a round bump) that has hardened skin and an uneven surface. It can appear anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are the hands, feet, and face. Warts can occur in a variety of sizes, colors, or shapes, though most of the time they are round, skin-colored, gray or black, and have a rough texture.

Why Do Kids Get Warts?

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why children get warts more frequently than adults, but around 10-20% of children have gotten a wart. It’s somewhat more common for girls to get warts than boys.

Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The virus acts like a germ seeking a warm place to call home, and enters through a cut, scratch, or wound. Once it enters, the virus causes the area to rapidly grow cells on the skin’s outer layer, resulting in the raised area. There isn’t a specific timeline for a wart to develop. Sometimes, it can take weeks to develop into a visible growth, and other times, it may take years. Because of this, it’s difficult to pinpoint when the infection happened.

Different Types of Warts

Some of the different type of warts include:

  • Common warts: These warts are most often found on the hands, usually on the fingers or the backs of the hands.
  • Palmer warts: As the name suggests, Palmer warts typically grow on the palms.
  • Plantar warts: These warts usually grow on the feet, specifically the soles.
  • Flat warts: Flat warts are most commonly found on the face, and can grow many at a time, as many as 20-100.
  • Filiform warts: These warts are long, thin, flesh-colored warts that can grow on the face, eyelids, neck or lips.
  • Genital warts: These warts don’t usually affect younger children because they are sexually transmitted.

How Do You Remove Warts?

Common treatments include over-the-counter wart removers that you can purchase at a drug store. Overall, these have about a 75% success rate, but may take 6-12 weeks to be effective. Though remember, these OTC treatments are not for warts on the face or lips.

One of the most popular home remedies for warts is to remove them with duct tape. The best way to do this is to place the duct tape over the wart, leave it on for 6 days, and soak in warm water to remove the tape. Repeat this process till the wart is gone, which could take from 28 days to a couple of months. In previous studies, this method has shown to be 85% successful.

It’s best to speak with your doctor about the best path for treating your child’s wart, but if you decide to do nothing, that’s perfectly okay. In one study, researchers reported that warts spontaneously cleared in 40% of children within two years, without any treatment. If you’re struggling with a child with warts, contact RBK Pediatrics online for more information.