Why Is My Child Getting Warts?
If you find a wart on your child, don’t panic. These small, firm bumps we call warts are pretty common in kids, somewhat like catching a cold. Once you know what causes warts, you can help your child prevent them.
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by various viruses from the human papillomavirus (HPV) family (not the same HPV family that is sexually transmitted and is known to cause cervical and other cancers).
One reason kids are more likely than adults to get warts is because their immune systems may not yet be strong enough to resist the virus strains that cause warts. What happens is a virus gets into the skin and infects the body through a scratch or small wound, even a papercut. The virus causes a rapid growth of cells that emerge as a wart, often on the fingers, hands, feet, or knees.
It can be difficult to figure out how or where your child picked up the virus that caused the wart because warts grow very slowly, and there is no set time between when a person is exposed to the virus and when the wart appears.
Ways Warts Can Spread Among Kids
In addition to having an immune system that may not be built up as much as an adults’, children also typically have more exposure to situations where viruses can stay active.
Viruses are contagious and kids tend to be in close contact with other kids in the home and at school or camp. While it’s not always possible to know for sure how your child got the infection that caused the wart, there are some common risks you should be aware of:
- Fingernail biting – Biting fingernails or picking at hangnails can cause small breaks in the skin through which a virus can get in.
- Sharing sports equipment – Because viruses thrive in moist or damp environments, sharing baseball mitts, batting gloves, or hockey or football gloves, for example, can spread the virus that causes warts. Using gym equipment right after someone else without wiping it down is also a risk for warts and other infections too.
- Sharing towels or using a common shower – This could be at home or in school. Kids in the same gym class or on sports teams can spread warts by using an infected kid’s damp towel or walking barefoot on the same shower floor or bath mat.
- Picking at a wart – Warts can be annoying, especially depending on their location. If your kid picks at their wart and then touches other parts of their body or things other people use, they can spread the wart to other parts of themselves or other people.
Children and teens often touch and share each other’s things—and are in environments like camp, school and locker rooms where this contact and sharing takes place—more so than adults, which is another reason warts are more common in kids. A papercut or a slight scratch you barely even see is enough of an opening for an HPV virus to get in. Keep in mind though, while warts can spread, the virus that causes them is not highly contagious.
Treating Your Child’s Wart at Home
You and your child can take steps to prevent warts by limiting the risks above, such as:
- Wear flip-flops in a common shower, like at a swim club or in a gym locker room
- Do not share sports equiptment
- Only use your own towel
- Stop biting fingernails
- Trim a hangnail with clean nail clippers instead of picking, biting or pulling it
If your child does get a wart, you can treat the wart effectively at home. Compound W® has several wart removal products that can help, including Compound W® One Step Strips For Kids. These medicated bandages in a kid-friendly design make it safe and easy for you to treat, cushion, and conceal common warts and plantar warts. The bandages are waterproof and safe to use on children ages 3 and up.
Our newest product for kids is Compound W® Freeze Off™ for Kids Wart Remover. This is a cryotherapy-based wart treatment designed specifically for kids. Its unique Accu-Freeze™ technology targets the wart while helping protect healthy skin around the wart from irritation or damage.
If your child is under age 3 and you think they have a wart, call or visit your child’s doctor to get treatment.