Growing up, there is a common misconception that children will get warts if they touch frogs and toads. While this is far from the truth, children are indeed far more likely to get them than anyone else. 10% to 20% of children have common warts. It’s fairly even between girls and boys, as well. Just a reminder, they can grow on anyone regardless of age. Children just get them more often.
For parents, there is no need to worry. Warts are harmless. Your child should not experience any pain. However, they may prove to be uncomfortable depending on where they are located. They may also cause your child to feel embarrassed by them. Your child may ask to get them removed.
Rest assured, warts are easily treated. Tots N Teens Pediatrics is here to help parents better understand pediatric them.
Warts are caused by viruses from the human papillomaviruses (HPV) family. Children should be given a vaccine for HPV when they are about 11-12 years of age. Regardless, warts can still form.
The virus causes abnormal noncancerous skin growths. These skin growths form as small, hardened areas of skin with a bumpy surface. The wart virus prefers warm, moist areas. Small cuts and scratches found on the hands and feet are exactly where this virus thrives. The virus enters the body in these open wounds and causes cells to rapidly grow on the skin.
Often, it takes time for warts to grow and make their presence know. They grow for months and sometimes won’t become big enough to see until a year after the area was infected. You may never know when you came into contact with HPV because of how long it takes for warts to develop.
Because an HPV virus causes them, they are contagious. Children who share towels or toys can pass them on to each other. If a child with warts used a doorknob, and another child with small cuts used the same doorknob later, they can get them as well.
Children with weak immune systems are more likely to develop warts. Children that frequently bite their fingernails or pick at hangnails have a higher likelihood of growing them, as well.
As we said, a virus from the HPV family causes them. However, different viruses can cause different warts. None of them are painful, but they may cause your child to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. They are:
Common warts: Normally found on the fingers, hands, knees, and elbows, these warts often have a rough surface. They have a grayish-brown to yellow color.
Plantar warts: These grow on the bottom of the feet, typically on the soles. Most don’t cause pain, but these can. It can feel as though you are constantly walking on a small rock. To prevent them, never walk barefoot in public spaces.
Palmer warts: These are commonly found on the palm as the name suggests.
Flat warts: They are much smaller and smoother than other warts. You can usually find them growing in groups, totaling from 20 to 100 at a time. They have flat tops hence their name. You can typically find them on the face.
Filiform warts: These are arguably the most recognizable. They are the kinds often seen on witches in movies and fairytales. They grow on chins, noses, eyelids, or necks and are long and small, sticking straight out.
Periungual warts: These are found around the nails as thickened skin. They even lead to painful splits in the skin, known as fissures.
You will need to bring your child to their pediatrician for a child exam. Here their healthcare provider can accurately diagnose whether they have a wart or not as well as the kind of wart. Typically, a healthcare provider can diagnose them based on how they look. However, they can perform a shave biopsy. This involves them shaving off a small part of the wart to send to the lab for examination.
Fortunately, warts pose no threat to your child’s overall well-being. They may just make them feel uncomfortable. They often go away on their own given time. Not everyone needs to get them treated, and that’s fine. Roughly 23% of warts go away on their own in two months, 30% in three months, and anywhere between 65% to 78% in two years.
However, many children wish to have their warts removed much sooner. Treatments used to remove them include:
The healthcare professionals at Tots N Teens Pediatrics offer our patients cryotherapy for wart removal. This method involves freezing off a wart using liquid nitrogen or a cryopen, which is an extremely cold, metal rod that is directly applied to the wart. The treatment is repeated every one to three weeks until the virus is eliminated.
Warts spread very easily. You can spread them to other people and even elsewhere on your body. Skin contact is the easiest way to spread them. Even touching something else someone with warts touched can give you them. You can help ensure that your child stays protected from warts. Make sure your child:
Warts are very common in children. While they do not pose any threat to their overall health and well-being, depending on where the warts are, it can cause them to be uncomfortable. Plantar warts can cause pain, feeling like you’re constantly walking on a rock. Many children often feel embarrassed by their them. They can go away on their own, but that often takes time. Some kids may want them removed sooner. Tots N Teens Pediatrics is here to help you decide what is best for your child. We do offer cryotherapy for wart removal if that is a route you wish to choose. Contact us to set up your child’s next appointment.