Warts in Children

What are warts?

Warts are areas of skin that grow faster than normal and become tough in appearance due to the presence of the wart virus.

They are most common on the hands, feet and face but they can grow almost anywhere on the body.

They are infectious and very common in childhood.

Warts on the sole of the foot are generally known as verrucas or plantar warts — they grow inwards rather than outwards because they are pressed on as you walk.

What causes them?

They are caused by a virus infection, so your child’s body will build up resistance over a period of time and the warts will eventually disappear. This may take months or sometimes years but that is the natural way the body deals with warts.

If you allow them to disappear in this way it is less likely that any more will develop because the body will then be immune to the virus.

How are they spread?

They are spread by direct contact or autoinocculation — this means if a wart is scratched, the viral particles may be spread to another area of skin. It may take as long as twelve months for the wart to appear.

How can I get rid of them?

There are two simple and effective methods:

Wart paint:

  • Wash the affected area every night and apply wart paint to the warts, getting as little as possible onto the surrounding skin — wart paint/gels are available from chemists.
  • Place surgical tape over the wart — the piece of tape should be big enough to stop the paint getting rubbed off on the bedclothes overnight
  • Every second night rub at the warty skin with the pummice stone before applying the wart paint.
  • Continue this treatment until the base of the wart looks exactly like normal skin. If the warts become sore or bleed, stop and continue the next night.
  • If verruccas are painful to walk on, cover them with a corn plaster until they go.

Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen):

  • Liquid nitrogen is usually used by doctors to cure warts. It can kill small warts in one application while larger warts may need successive treatments. Side effects include pain, soreness and blistering.

How long do they last?

In children, 50% of warts disappear without treatment within six months, and 90% are gone in two years. Wart paint will remove them within 12 weeks and cryotherapy after a couple of treatments. They can last for 5—7 years in adults, but they do disappear eventually.

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