Warts are much more common in children than in adults, affecting around 1 in 5 kids. So what are warts, and what can we do about them?
A wart is a noncancerous type of skin growth that is caused by a strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which develops an infection in the outer layer of skin. Warts can affect any part of the body, but they are most common on the hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
What Is a Wart?
A wart usually looks like a raised area of skin. It can feel rough to the touch, and it sometimes appears darker or paler than the surrounding skin.
Sometimes warts, especially on the soles of the feet, can have black dots on the surface of the wart. Usually, warts aren’t painful, but they can cause discomfort if they develop on the soles on the feet or on an area that is touched and used often.
Although warts are generally harmless, they are contagious – so they can spread to different parts of the body and even to other people. It can also take months for a wart to become visible after that area of skin is infected with the virus.
Causes of Warts
The viruses that cause warts can be passed to another person through close skin contact and from contaminated surfaces, such as sharing a towel or from walking on the locker room floor. You are more likely to catch the virus if your skin is cut or damaged in some way or if your immune system has been weakened.
How Can I Prevent a Wart?
It can be difficult to avoid the virus, especially if your child has it. However, good hygiene is one of the best ways to stop the spread of warts, and encouraging your family to follow these tips will help:
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Dry your hands thoroughly after washing them, because you are more likely to spread the virus if your skin is wet.
- Use paper towels if possible so the virus isn’t being spread through towels.
- Don’t share clothing with others.
- Don’t scratch or pick at warts.
- Keep your skin healthy, as the virus can spread more easily if the skin is damaged.
- Do not bite your nails or suck your fingers.
- Change your clothing that comes into contact with warts daily – e.g., socks, if the wart is on the foot.
- Don’t walk around barefoot in public areas.
- Cover warts with waterproof bandages when swimming.
Warts will usually go away on their own, but this can take months or even years. There are different treatments available, depending on the severity of the problem.
Over-the-counter wart treatments are available. If the wart does not respond to these medications, professional treatment options include prescription medicine, burning/freezing the wart off, and laser treatments. Your doctor may decide to remove a wart if it’s painful, if it’s causing discomfort during normal day-to-day activities, or if it is causing embarrassment.
Dermatologist for Children in Miami
Children’s Skin Center is one of the few centers with doctors who are board-certified in both dermatology and pediatric dermatology. Due to our doctors’ advanced training in these fields, our center is ideal for your whole family’s dermatology care needs.
Call (305) 669-6555 to make an appointment today, or request an appointment online. Our staff looks forward to welcoming you to our practice, where we can discuss the different treatment options available with you.