When contemplating having children, there are quite a few myths a prospective parent wades through to determine if children genuinely are the scary little creatures people make them out to be. One myth regarding little boys is their fascination with frogs and toads and the warts that result from handling them. In truth, with or without handling frogs and toads, about ten percent of children experience warts, and the majority of those are girls.
Warts are contagious but practically harmless and occur mostly in children between the ages of twelve and sixteen. While warts are medically harmless, they can be embarrassing for some children, and some warts may cause discomfort, particularly those occurring on the soles of the feet. Understanding why kids get them, how to avoid warts, and if necessary, how to remove warts is of great value to parents when helping their children get through those problematic tween and teen years without too many embarrassing moments.
What is a Wart?
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The virus typically causes a growth of cells on the outer layer of skin after it is introduced through even the most minor cut or scratch. Warts appear most commonly on the hands, feet, face, and near the knees.
There are several types of warts, including:
- common wart: found on the fingers and back of hands
- almer wart: found on the palm of the hand
- plantar wart: grows on the soles of the feet
- flat wart: found on the face of children and grows in groups of up to one hundred
- filiform wart: found on the face, chin, or nose; sizable and stick straight out
How Can I Avoid Warts?
We must debunk the myth that warts are spread by handling frogs or toads. The presence of HPV is the determining factor in whether someone has warts and can spread them. Warts are typically spread through skin-to-skin contact. Because they are very contagious, they can also be spread when a child with a wart touches an object and then another child comes behind them and touches the same object, especially if the second child has a cut or scratch on their hand. The virus is easily introduced through surface contact, even through sharing towels or walking in the same area in their bare feet. HPV spreads in warm, moist places, including showers, bathtubs, and even the surface surrounding a pool.
To avoid warts in areas like this which are often frequented by children, it would be wise to avoid sharing towels and wear water shoes or flip-flops when walking on wet surfaces or in common shower areas. Basic hygiene, like washing hands frequently, can help; however, if your child has a cut or scratch, the best way to avoid warts is to keep it covered with a band-aid or tape. If your child does not have warts, it is essential to teach them how to avoid warts without being unkind to other children who may have them, mainly because it is no fault of their own.
There are other ways to avoid spreading warts, including:
- do not pick at or shave over a wart
- clean any grooming tools after they have been near a wart
- have your child get the HPV vaccine if they are old enough
If your child has warts on their hands or the soles of their feet, it is best to keep warts covered while in public places to avoid spreading the virus. Because HPV is contagious, this can help to avoid warts spreading to other children through accidental contact during casual playtime. Take time to explain to your child that while warts may be embarrassing, and while it is no fault of their own, they need to be aware of how to avoid warts being spread while playing.
How Do I Treat or Remove Warts?
While they can be unsightly, and we may want to remove warts immediately, the wart will often go away on its own after a year or two. If you want a more immediate remedy to remove the wart, there are treatments you can perform at home, and if needed, more aggressive treatments to remove warts can be offered by your doctor. At home, you have several options to remove warts, including salicylic acid, which is found in over-the-counter remedies like Dr. Scholl’s or Compound W. Duct tape. Also, another air-tight tape can be used by itself or paired with a cotton ball soaked with salicylic acid or more natural options like tea tree oil, lemon juice, or apple vinegar. Because there is no cure for HPV, which causes warts, the results may not be permanent. For this reason, doctors may be hesitant to use too aggressive a treatment to remove warts. In doctors’ offices, they can use a prescription dose of salicylic acid or a liquid nitrogen treatment, also called cryotherapy, to attempt to freeze or burn the wart to remove it.
While warts may be common among children, they can be challenging for a child to accept when they are embarrassed by the appearance of these growths on their skin. Seeking treatment to remove warts may or may not work, and warts may even go away on their own. But in the meantime, it is important to teach your child how to avoid touching their wart or touching other areas of their body without washing their hands.
Skincare for children without troubling skin conditions can be challenging, but adding warts onto tween and teen feelings of self-consciousness can be next level. Be sure to utilize the skincare experts and products available for the specific issues you are facing and help make the journey a little more bearable. Kids of all ages face skin issues at various times; connecting with resources that make that experience shorter and more tolerable can allow your child to focus on more important things – like bringing home excellent grades!