A few bumps in the road: What parents need to know about kids and warts

 By Rebecca Long Pyper

 We associate warts with witches, but to be honest, they’re pretty prevalent with kids too.

 That’s because warts are caused by the human papillomavirus — or HPV. Like other viruses, HPV is easily transmitted, but the better hygiene kids practice, the lower their chances of contracting warts.

 Warts tend to be seen in skin that’s been beat up — think scraped knees, for instance, said Dr. Adam D. Wray, a dermatologist with Bingham Memorial Hospital. And according to KidsHealth.org, “If you touch a towel, surface or anything else someone with a wart has used, you can pick up HPV. Kids who bite their fingernails or pick at hangnails get warts more often than kids who don’t. That’s why it’s important to avoid picking, rubbing or scratching a wart, whether it’s on another person or on your own body.”

 In reality both kids and adults are susceptible to viruses that cause warts, but “with birthdays on the calendar our bodies tend to become immune to warts, and that’s why we tend to see warts more commonly in kids,” Wray said.

 Here are a few things parents ought to know about children and warts:

 Warts will go away — eventually. Some vanish within several months, while others take years to disappear. “It’s difficult to predict exactly when or how fast they will go away, which is why we usually treat them,” Wray said.

 Warts can spread. The possibility of spreading is another reason Wray recommends treating them. In general, having multiple warts is not concerning, but sometimes “having many warts can be a manifestation of an immune-system dysfunction. Having many warts may change treatment options,” Wray said.

 Warts can be removed multiple ways. Some painless options do exist, like topical creams and medicine that makes the body think it’s allergic to the wart and start attacking it. But “most methods have some discomfort” attached to them, like liquid nitrogen, cantharidin application, injections and laser treatment, Wray said. The bad news is that “whenever there’s a lot of ways to treat something, it means nothing works really well, or we would just have one treatment,” he said.

 A dermatologist can determine the best plan for treating your little bumpy one. “There are a lot of ways to treat warts, and it’s just a matter of finding the best treatment for each patient,” Wray said.

Leave a Reply