Warts are very common in both children and adults. They are caused by a virus in the HPV (human papillomavirus) family. Warts affect about 10% of children and young adults, and about 75% of the US population have blood test evidence of infection with the wart virus at some point in their lives.
Warts are basically harmless skin growths. They can develop on any part of the body. They may have a different appearance based on what body part they appear on. Most people are familiar with the raised wart growths on the tops of the hands. But flat warts can also occur on the face, arms, and legs. These are usually small, only slightly raised, and skin color, making them harder to see. If you look at a wart with a magnifying glass, you can see tiny dark dots: these dots represent the blood vessels that the virus feeds off.
Warts usually do not cause any problems other than their unsightly appearance and risk of transmission to other parts of the body or other people. Plantar warts (warts on the sole of the foot) are often painful and cause the most distress. Interestingly, they are also the hardest to treat. Depending on if they are a nuisance, or they bleed or are painful, or cause embarrassment, people usually seek treatment for their warts. As mentioned, warts are also contagious and may spread to other close contacts. If left untreated, the wart may take up to 2 years to spontaneously disappear.
Your Dermatologist Can Offer You Many Treatment Options That May Help Get Rid of The Warts.
- Liquid Nitrogen or Cryotherapy: This is a cold gas at -196 degrees Celsius that is used to freeze and destroy skin growths. It can cause stinging and mild pain for a few minutes. After treatment, your skin may become red and swollen and form a blister. Scab forms after and will fall off in 1-3 weeks. No special care is needed after. This treatment often requires multiple sessions to get rid of the wart completely, especially if there are many lesions.
- Cantharidin Treatment: Cantharidin is a chemical applied to each wart in the doctor’s office. It needs to be washed off with soap and water 0.5 – 4 hours later. Within 24 hours, a blister forms and the bump peels off. Applying ointment and covering the blister with a band-aid can help it heal. You can use Tylenol as needed for discomfort. This treatment also requires multiple sessions to get rid of the wart completely, especially if there are many lesions.
- Injections, laser treatment, and topical and oral medication are also used in the treatment of warts.
Home treatments may also be useful. Over-the-counter Compound W, Duofilm, Wart-off, or another 17% salicylic acid liquid to cover each wart has been helpful.
To learn more about Wart treatment options for your children and teens, we invite you to fill out our contact form or call Children’s Dermatology at (949) 679-1990 to schedule a consultation today. We will be happy to answer any questions and help determine an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment options for your family.