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There is an unpleasantness we associate with the word “wart”. You want your baby’s skin to be flawless but what you want is not what always happens. You do everything to protect your child but still, he may suffer from health issues or skin problems. And seeing warts on the beautiful skin of your baby, you start worrying. But, you should remember that skin warts though not common, do appear in babies.
What Are Warts?
Warts are bumpy growths that form on the human skin. They are caused by a type of virus called HPV (Human Papillomavirus). It is important to note that HPV is not a single strain of virus but a family of viruses with dozens of individual types. Warts are formed when HPV attacks the surface of the skin and causes extremely fast unrequired cell growth. Though communicable, warts do not cause anything more than ‘aesthetic’ harm!
A certain strain of HPV is also known to cause cervical cancer! However, this isn’t the same one that causes growths of warts.
Types of Warts
Following are the most common types of warts that may affect your baby:
1. Common Warts
Common warts are found on one’s fingers and hands. These are small, hard, roundish lumps.
2. Filiform Warts
Filiform warts extrude out and away from the skin. They appear like a clump of thin, extended warts stuck together. These are commonly found around the face and neck. These are also known as facial warts.
3. Flat Warts
Flat warts usually form in “colonies” of hundreds, spread across a particular area of the body. They are only slightly raised from the skin and have smooth or slightly rounded surfaces.
4. Plantar Warts
These form exclusively on the soles of one’s feet. They appear as a hard lump with black dots on it. These black dots are clotted blood vessels.
5. Periungual Warts
These form around and under fingernails and toenails. The location causes them to be painful and even affect regular nail growth.
How Common Are Warts in Babies and Where Do They Appear?
Warts are not common in babies. Since they are communicable, they are more common among school-going children, who are exposed to other children. If your baby develops warts, it is through exposure to HPV, usually from someone else that have warts themselves.
Warts mostly appear are the toes, knees, and hands. However, they aren’t limited to these locations. The soles of the feet and the face are also commonly affected.
What Causes Warts in Babies
Though not seriously harmful, warts are contagious. Constant contact and ruptured skin accelerate the transmission of the HPV virus. Following are some reasons why warts spread in babies:
- If a member of the family or anyone else in the house has warts, it is very likely that your baby may contract it simply by constantly touching the same surfaces (furniture, utensils, etc.) which the person with warts may have touched.
- Babies who chew their fingers or nails can get warts easily. The ruptured epidermis around the chewed fingers and its sogginess helps the virus thrive.
- If the mother is affected by genital warts, it could spread to the baby during delivery (C-section deliveries excluded).
- If your baby already has warts and they fidget and pick it constantly, it could spread to other parts of the body too.
Symptoms of Warts in Infants
Medical professionals advise to look out for bumps with a “cauliflower-like” appearance. What this refers to is the rough, uneven, bumpy surface of a cauliflower. If you notice such a texture on your baby’s skin, slightly raised higher than the surrounding skin, it is likely, a wart!
Warts on the face and neck are usually flatter than on other places. Plantar warts on the soles of the feet may appear flat, especially, if your infant has started walking. Look for black dots in such areas.
How Are Warts Diagnosed?
Warts can be easily diagnosed on the basis of their appearance, especially, by medical professionals. There are no tests or other procedure required to diagnose warts.
How Are Infant Warts Treated?
Here are some ways that you may try to treat warts in infants:
- Salicylic acid-based over the counter medication
Before applying the OTC solution, wash the area with water and scrape it gently with a nail file or pumice stone so that the uppermost layer of skin is removed. This ensures that the medication reaches affected areas. OTC solutions can take a long time to work, often up to several weeks.
- Freon or propane-based over the counter medication
These medications work by “freezing” warts. This prevents the fast growth of skin cells that the warts are made of. It is a faster method to treat warts as compared to a salicylic acid solution.
A cruder seeming home solution to baby warts is to stick duct tape over the affected area. This prevents the HPV from spreading elsewhere while also drying up the top area of the wart over the course of 5-6 days. When replacing the tape, wash the affected area, exfoliate, and ensure that the area is dried before putting up the tape.
How Can You Prevent Baby Warts?
Proper hygiene is the first and most important factor in preventing warts, just as it is with a myriad of other dermatological conditions. If there are people in the house or regular visitors, who happen to be affected by warts, make sure they clean their hands before touching the baby. Also, prevent the baby from coming into contact with surfaces the affected person touches regularly. Avoid sharing towels. Warts are not medically harmful, and the condition usually resolves in two years or so, even if left untreated.
When to Consult a Doctor
Misdiagnosing warts is a huge danger. If warts on your baby are growing each day or it seems to be causing pain, it may not be a common case of warts but something else entirely. This is when you should consult a doctor. Another danger with warts is of them getting ruptured and infected. Infection is signalled by a change in colour, swelling, discharge of fluid, etc. Genital warts in babies (those occurring on genitals or anus) may actually be venereal. This can be contracted from an affected mother during birth. Such a condition also poses the threat of not manifesting itself until the baby is 2-3 years old and can even lead to genital cancer in adulthood. So, seek medical help in such conditions.
Warts may seem to be a cause for desperate concern for a new parent, but it isn’t harmful, so it shouldn’t cause unnecessary worry. The immunity strength of babies is in the developing stage, hence they are more susceptible to contract warts than a mature individual.
Also Read: Eczema in Children