Warts in Children
Warts are actually a viral infection that involves the skin top layers. The infection is caused by a family of viruses called human papillomavirus or HPV for short. These infections are more common in children than adults. They can attack any area of the body but the infection starts in a warm, moist environment or areas that have been traumatized. The infection is slow and starts as one lesion but can progress to multiple lesions.
Kids can get warts anywhere (i.e., from touching anything someone with a wart has used, like towels and surfaces, biting or picking their finger and toe nails).
Types of warts
- Common warts Found mostly on fingers, hands, knees, and elbows. A common wart is a small, hard dome-shaped bump. The color be light gray to brown. It has a rough surface similar to a head of cauliflower.
- Flat warts Small (size of a pinhead), flat, and smooth lesions. The color may be pink, light brown, or yellow. The lesion can appear all over the body but most commonly seen on face and exposed extremities
- Plantar warts These warts are common warts found on the sole of the feet and can be very painful. They feel like a piece of glass is caught in the foot.
- Filiform warts Finger shaped, flesh-colored, and grows mostly on or around the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Are Warts Contagious?
Warts are contagious but not easily transmitted. The wart virus are passed from person to person by close physical contact or from a surface such as a bathroom floor or mat. A tiny cut or scratch on the skin can make the skin more vulnerable to contracting warts. Warts grow slowly taking weeks to see them. Picking at a wart can spread warts to other parts of the body.
How can we prevent warts?
There is no way to prevent from being exposed to a wart virus. They are common and only good hygiene including hand washing and keeping open cuts or scratches clean can prevent spread of virus.
Waterproof sandals or flip-flops are good idea in public showers, locker rooms, and around public pools to protect against plantar warts.
What treatments are there?
Warts are a nuisance more than a problem, so it's not always necessary to have them removed. Without treatment, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years for a wart to go away. A doctor might decide to remove a wart if it's painful, spreading, or interferes with activities.
Salicylic acid cream and solutions (Duofilm, Dr. Scholl’s Compound W) These are available over the counter. The treatment involves apply the cream or solution to the area daily and covering with a bandage. The next day, the parent will clean the area and remove any white “dead” skin with either a nail file or pumice stone. Repeat until the wart is removed. IT may take several weeks. Salicyclic treatment for warts pdf
Freezing canister (Compound W Freeze Off and Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away): This product is available for home use but is not as effective as in-office cryotherapy which we offer. Follow the instruction on the canister and remove dead skin in a few days after treatment. You may need to repeat treatment several times to achieve a cure.
Duct tape This approach apply an occlusive tape such as duct tape to the lesion for 24 hour intervals. The warts will soften and the dead skin can removed with file or pumice stone. This is definitely the most economical method but not very effective. Duct tape for warts pdf
Cryotherapy in our office We offer this in-office treatment for warts. The technique is similar the freezing canister treatments but we are able to achieve colder temperature and much more effective result. Depending on the wart size and location, the treatment will take about 20-40 sec. Warts on the sole of foot may require two to three treatment cycles. There is some discomfort involved with treatment but generally for a brief period. Your child may complain of soreness over the next 1-2 days. The doctors may recommend other OTC treatments to improve results after the area has healed (3-4 days). Some warts (planter and larger warts) may require repeat visit in 2 week intervals or referral to dermatologist for further treatments. Cryotherapy after care pdf
Surgical removal or laser treatments Rarely is needed but we will refer to dermatologist or podiatrist to address “stubborn warts”