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Warts are common in children. Forget the folklore, which suggests that warts are caused if you have touched toads or frogs. Read on for some information about these common eruptions which will make it easy for you to handle them if you notice them on your child’s skin.
What Are Warts?
Warts are small bumps that you notice on your child’s hands or feet. They are infections that are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). They usually occur in kids more than adults. These viruses can be picked by kids from anywhere. If they come in contact with an object a wart infected person has touched or used, they will pick up the virus. Small skin cuts, scratches or skin lesions can expose the child to an infection. Although this is harmless, one might not like the sight of warts. Warts do not have serious medical significance but are visually unpleasant. They are more of a cosmetic problem than a medical one.
Warts can be same as the skin colour or in some cases might be lighter or darker than the skin colour. They are nothing but rapid growth of cells on the outer surface of skin. They are contagious but not dangerous.
Types Of Warts On Kids
All warts are not the same. There are various types of warts and they vary by their place of occurrence and appearance. Viral warts on a child can appear anywhere on the body. Here are some of the warts you may see on your child and how to recognize them
- Common Warts
Common warts, as the name suggests, are found in common places such as hands, legs, knees, elbow and fingers. They look like a small bump almost skin color but with small black dots inside. Since they look like grainy bumps with black dots, they are sometimes called ‘seed warts’.
- Flat Warts
These warts are much smaller and smoother than other warts. They have a flat top so they are called flat warts. They are as small as a pin head. They may appear to be pink, yellow or light brown. In children, they are most often found on the face, but they may appear on their hands, knees or arms too. They may also appear in clusters.
- Plantar Warts
These appear on the soles of the feet and can be very uncomfortable. Walking of feet infected with these warts might feel like walking on small stones. Sometimes they can be painful.
- Filiform Warts
These appear around the mouth, eyes or nose. They are skin coloured and have a finger like shape.
Some warts may even appear around the genital area but they are mostly sexually transmitted, hence, do not occur in children.
What Causes Warts in Children?
Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is contracted from an infected person directly or indirectly. If a child happens to come in contact with a person who has this infection or even the objects this person has touched, then the child gets the infection too. Having said that, it is important to remember that it is not necessary that all kids who come in contact with an infected person will get warts. The immunity levels of the child matter a lot, too. If the child has lower levels of immunity, he has more chances of getting infected. Also, this virus enters the body through skin lesions, cuts or scratches, so it is important to pay attention to hygiene and keep the child’s wounds clean at all times.
The virus can remain dormant for a period of time until it finds suitable conditions to become a wart. Like all viruses, it likes moist places and has an incubation period of six months. Once it becomes active, it forms extra layers of skin and appears like a bump. It looks like a cauliflower head with black dots in it. The black dots are blood vessels which supply nutrients to the wart.
Following are the main reasons that can cause the formation of warts:
- Low immunity, which makes your kid more susceptible to warts
- Open and unattended cuts and wounds, which increase your child’s risk of getting warts
- Your child coming in contact with the infected person or objects the infected person has used
- Your child has a habit of biting nails or picking at nails. Such places are prone to be the locations where the virus thrives and hides
- Your kid uses public swimming pools and walks around barefoot
- Chances of getting plantar warts are higher if kid plays around barefoot in parks and public places
If your child has been infected and warts have started appearing, start the treatment and remember to not allow the child scratch or pick on the wart as this increases the warts on the body.
Warts Signs and Symptoms
HPV is a dormant virus and takes time to appear. You might not even realize that the child has been infected until you see the warts appearing. This could be in months or sometimes years. By the time you notice it, the virus may have spread. Listed below are a few ways you can spot a wart.
- Warts can vary in color. Some are pinkish or yellowish or brownish. They are generally small, flat and bumpy.
- They are a sore to the eye and might appear anywhere on the body. Toddlers might get them on their hands and knees.
- Pre-teens and teenage kids might not like the sight of warts though they are usually harmless and painless too.
- Warts on the soles of the feet (plantar warts) might be irritating, and sometimes painful or itchy.
- Flat warts appear on the child’s face and appear like smooth bumps on the skin.
- Common warts may bleed if the child is picking or scratching them.
How Is The Diagnosis Done?
Diagnosing warts can be easy. You need to look and feel them for detection. If you have already done so and still wish to confirm the diagnosis, then do visit a doctor. He may do one of the following:
- Examine the wart
- Scrape off the top portion of the wart to see if there are blood vessels inside which support growth of the wart
- In spite of all this if he still not have a conclusive diagnosis, he might send a part of the wart to the lab for a biopsy
Are Warts Contagious?
Warts are contagious but not dangerous. Kids might get the virus from anywhere, including from other kids’ toys, towels or clothes. Children with a medical problem and a compromised immune system are more prone to get the infection. But this does not mean that healthy children will not get warts. Being susceptible to warts is like catching a common cold or flu. There are equal chances of anyone getting them.
Other Treatment Options
Are you worried about how to get rid of warts on kids? Well, here are some treatment options. If they are harmless or painless, you can simply leave them alone and there is a good chance that they will disappear on their own. However, it may take a couple of months or sometimes even 2 to 3 years for them to completely disappear. Here are some treatment options you may consider:
- Home remedies
There are many easy and effective home remedies as well as some procedures to remove warts.
- OTC (over the counter) medications
There are topical application skin ointments containing salicylic acid and oral drugs, which are available to treat these eruptions. These do not require a prescription. However, it is advisable to consult your physician before using them.
- Medical procedures
There are simple medical procedures that the doctor will recommend depending on the specific condition. These may include cryotherapy (freezing the wart) and electrocautery (burning the wart).
Home Remedies For Warts in Kids
Home remedies are the first option one should try. Duct-tape method seems to be very effective but you need have patience as it takes a while to show results.
Simply use a duct tape and cover the wart and leave it for a week. Then remove the duct tape and soak the wart in water. Gently scrub the wart with a rough paper (emery paper). This process has to be repeated until the wart comes off. Don’t lose your patience in the process as it may take a few months to clear off the warts.
If you think the old folklore on warts was absurd enough, there are some home remedies that were even weirder in those days, such as apply potato on the wart and hide the potato in some secret place.
Listed here are some home remedies:
- Garlic: Garlic is a very effective cure for warts as it has a caustic effect on it. Apply crushed garlic on the wart for 2 weeks and the blister will dry and fall off.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apply apple cider vinegar on the wart with a cotton ball or stick the cotton ball on the wart with a band-aid and leave it for 3 hours. Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature and so it is effective in removing warts.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also acidic in nature and destroys the virus that causes the warts.
Here is how to use it:
Crush the vitamin C tablet available in the stores, mix it with some water to make a paste and apply it on warts. Cover the applied surface with a bandage to hold the paste for a few hours. You might feel slight burning sensation but that is common and will subside after a while.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is another compound which is acidic and helps treat warts. Here are the two methods where you can use baking soda on warts:
- Make a paste of baking soda and white vinegar and apply it on the wart twice a day.
- Make a paste of baking soda with castor oil. Take a small ball of this paste put it on the wart and wrap it with a bandage. Let it stay overnight and remove it the following morning. Repeat this process for a couple of weeks until the wart falls off.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and it works great on the skin. Use the Aloe Vera gel directly from the plant if you have one, or buy the gel which is easily available. Take some gel on the cotton ball and hold it on the wart with the help of a tape or bandage. Do this every day for a few weeks until the wart disappears.
- Hot water soak: Soaking your feet in warm water is very effective for plantar warts. First, use a pumice stone to scrub your feet and then soak them in warm water for 15 minutes. You may add Epsom salt or vinegar to the water. Do this every day and you will surely get rid of plantar warts.
- Birch bark: As you already know salicylate helps remove warts, Birch tree bark contains salicylates. If you are using the bark, dampen it a bit, and then tie it facing inwards on the wart infected area. Alternatively, you can dry and powder the bark. Boil this powder in water for 10 to 15 minutes and dab the infected area with this solution.
- Banana Peel: Banana peels are easily found and have many medicinal uses, one of them being, treating warts. The chemical in the peels helps dissolve the warts. Wrap the inner side of the peel to the wart and leave it overnight and remove the following morning. Repeat this method every day for a few weeks.
- Dandelion: If you have access to pesticide-free natural dandelions, break the stem and apply it on the wart. It is normal to feel a little irritation. Dandelion extract is a natural immune booster.
- Basil Leaves: Basil, as we all know has a lot of medicinal uses. Its anti-viral properties kill the virus in the wart. Crush some basil leaves with water and apply this paste on the wart, you may use a duct tape to hold it in place. Try this for a few weeks.
- Castor oil: Apply a generous amount of castor oil on the wart and leave it. Try this for a few weeks
- Tea Tree oil: Tea tree oil is another herb, which has anti-viral properties. You can apply tea tree oil directly on the wart, or you can mix the oil with some aloe vera gel, and then apply it on the wart.
- Papaya: Papaya has enzymes, which dissolve dead tissues and a wart is exactly that – dead tissues. Apply the thick sap cut out from the raw green papaya with water on the wart for twice a week to see good results.
These remedies might work for some kids, and for some they may not. Eliminating warts is a tedious process but they are sure to fall off, eventually. Do not meddle with it a lot as it might worsen. If none of these remedies work, visit the doctor for further treatment.
How to Safeguard Kids From Warts
Warts are viral infections that can be picked up from anywhere. Instead of precautions we can avoid it by focusing on some precautions. Follow these simple precautions:
- Get your children habituated to washing hands when they have touched something in public places, especially damp spots such as monkey bars or railings. If they do not wash hands there is a possibility that they will contract the infection if the bar has already been touched by an infected kid.
- Always insist on wearing foot wear while playing outdoors to reduce risk of plantar warts.
- If you are using public swimming pools, insist on wearing slippers or flip flops. Also, remember to not allow sharing of towels.
- If the child has got a scratch or bruise while playing, ask them to first wash their hands before touching or treating the wound.
- Don’t allow them to meddle with or pick the wart.
- Accidentally, if they touch the wart, ask them to wash hands immediately.
- If they are in contact with any child having warts, advise them not to share towels, toys, utensils and other things.
When To Consult A Doctor
Although warts are harmless and can be treated at home, they need medical intervention, if the following happens;
- If there are wart like bumps on child’s face or genitals
- If the warts on children’s feet are painful and bleeding
- If the occurrence of warts increases
- If you have tried home remedies and OTC drugs but the warts are not responding to the treatment
- If the warts on kids’ hands get infected and become red and itchy
Warts are harmless infections but they do need treatment as they are unsightly. In very rare cases do they become a medical issue. The best thing that you can do to keep your child from getting this infection is to teach them cleanliness in public places and school. There are umpteen home remedies for warts but they need perseverance. Simple and painless warts can be left untreated and they go away on their own. As parents, we might not like the look of warts on our child’s body but remember not to meddle with them as they might worsen. Try some immune boosting methods or medicines as kids with good immunity have less chances of getting infections.