Warts have such stigma. No-one wants to have one. No-one wants to have more than one. It’s kind of like cooties spreading like wild fire, or it’s that green thing growing on the witches nose! Our daughter has been known to ask many a time when she sees a wart on another child “I touched the table over there mum… am I going to get warts?”
Well the truth is, warts are highly contagious, and being a virus (the human papilloma virus) they can stay alive on surfaces for a short time, making communal showers a fabulous hub for wart-gifting!
Plantar warts quite simply are warts that are found on the plantar (bottom) surface of your foot. These ones are particularly painful as they tend to be found in weight bearing areas, so can be felt with each and every step you take. So why is normally kids who get them I hear you ask? Well, kids love to touch. They love to discover… to poke and prod. So they may just be sitting there innocently scratching away at their foot (perhaps you thought it was a corn?) and now that lovely virus is under their fingernails… and soon they’re picking at a scab on their hand (from their skateboarding injury) with that same finger… and low and behold, sometime later a wart appears where that scab was! Yes it’s that simple.
I can’t remember the number of times I’ve advised parents to wear thongs in their home shower if one child has a wart (as crazy as it sounds!). Warts are a virus. They spread easily. One wart often leads to a cluster of them. And one child, often leads to a sibling getting them… if not the whole family!
So should we treat them? Well if it was my child (which it has been) then, yes. My personal preference is to get it before it becomes 2, or 3, or 4 warts. The sooner you get on top of it, generally the less invasive the treatment needed. But there is a lot of evidence out there to support that fact that warts (in children) will often resolve on their own accord. So if you want to give them 6 or 12 months, then by all means wait and see. But if that wart has been there for 2 years… the chances are slim. It’s unlikely that one will resolve on its own accord.
Right…. Now how I hear you ask… how do podiatrists treat warts? Can you go and get one of those fabulous at-home kits and do it yourself? Well by all means. Just be careful! Most of the at-home kits are mild acids… yep that pretty much means it’s going to “eat” away at the skin. That acid can’t differentiate between “good” and “viral” tissue so if you are too liberal with this stuff you’re going to ruin some of your kids “healthy” tissue too. So… go easy. Most podiatrists will have a range of treatment options. Or, at least, if they know what they’re doing, they should be able to discuss with you a range of treatments and together you can decide which is most effective (or which fits in best) with your child. Topical treatments (such as acids, silver nitrate etc) generally require multiple applications. That means back and forth to your podiatrist. It also may mean keeping the area dry and avoiding sports for some days between applications. This can be tricky with kids. Topical applications can be a bit hit and miss in my opinion. Depending on the size and location, I personally have a much preferred method…. The Puncture Technique. Sounds horrific, but really it isn’t. The puncture technique has about a 98% success rate, and is a one-off treatment. Put simply it involves anesthetising the site (that is the only part the child may dislike – the needle into the foot), and then repetitively puncturing the site (none of which the child can feel) to create an autoimmune response which results in the viral tissue being destroyed and pushed out to the surface. A couple of days later, this part is scraped off… and bingo… wart gone! This is our favoured method at Little Big Feet pretty much for two reasons… firstly the success rate, and secondly the one-off treatment as opposed to the drawn out back and forth which can result in the wart taking some months to clear.
So however you choose to do it, just be sure to speak to someone who knows what they’re doing and who understands kids. Kids are a different beast to adults. They don’t sit sedentarily like us behind a desk. They can’t realistically be asked to ‘elevate and avoid weight bearing’ when the sports carnival and their friends are all wanting to know who really can throw that discus the furthest! So be mindful that you’re dealing with a child. Generally they’re really super healthy beings… and they’ll make a quick recovery. But if you can get it over and done with quickly… before it spreads to little Johnny… and you have 3 of them lined up at the podiatrist…. then why wouldn’t you?