Children and Plantar Warts
Plantar warts (simply: warts on the feet) are a very common issue for people of all ages. It’s estimated that 7-10% of the US population has some type of wart infection. It’s especially prevalent in children, with approximately 10-20% of children in the US affected. These are most common from the ages of 12-16 and girls are affected more frequently than boys.
Although these skin lesions are typically harmless, they can cause pain and discomfort as well as being unsightly. They’re also highly contagious and can easily be spread to others through both direct and indirect contact. This means that warts can be spread either by coming in contact with someone’s wart with your bare skin or by having bare skin contact with an object recently touched by someone else’s wart (ie: shower floor, socks, towels, etc.).
Diagnosis is usually done by physical examination. This typically involves trimming of the wart to remove any hard outer callus and looking for the telltale signs of wart infection. These symptoms can be subtle, and proper diagnosis should always be done by a qualified specialist.
Treating Plantar Warts
Once the diagnosis of plantar warts has been made, treatment can be started. Success rates for wart treatments in the adult population are often very low with cure rates for an initial treatment ranging from 5-10%. Subsequent treatments are typically needed. Success rates for initial treatments for children are much better, typically in the 50-60% success range. Various treatment options exist including over the counter topicals, laser therapies, surgical excision, as well as more aggressive topical therapies that are applied under a doctor’s supervision. The best treatment option can vary from person to person depending on age, severity, and location on the foot.
Regardless of which treatment is used, prevention of spread is always very important to avoid re-infection and to avoid passing it along to someone else. My recommendations to prevent spreading warts include:
- Always wear shower shoes in public locker rooms and changing rooms. This includes anyone with warts but also anyone without them.
- If your child has warts they should not share socks, shoes, towels, or anything else that may come in contact with their wart with anyone else.
- Cover all warts with waterproof bandage for any swimming or outdoor barefoot activity.
- Anyone with warts should avoid touching the warts directly with their hands and then touching anything or anyone else. Regular hand washing is encouraged to prevent this.
If you suspect that you or your child may have plantar warts I encourage you to make an appointment with an experienced health professional. The sooner they get properly diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be started, and the sooner those warts can be HISTORY! Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns.