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Verrucae in Children

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You may be wondering, do I need to treat my child's verruca?

If your child is not in pain or discomfort then the answer is no!

Yes, that’s correct, you do not have to treat your child’s verruca… unless they are in pain or discomfort.

Yes, they are contagious, so advice can be given to avoid catching and spreading them. But unless they are particularly bothersome just ignore them!

Verrucas are caused by variants of the human papilloma virus (usually HPV1 in children under 10 years old) and eventually the body’s immune system WILL fight it off. But you have no guarantee how long this will take. In children this normally takes anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, so patience, watch and wait are the general advice for most children. They are mostly a cosmetic problem with no real side effects, in fact many people often do not realise they have a verruca!

 

Anyone can get verrucas. They are particularly common in children. They are NOT a sign that there is any problem with the immune system, even when they have been present for a long time.

Verrucas are harmless warts, they very rarely cause any problems although the build up of hard skin over the top of the verruca becoming uncomfortable is often what causes patients to seek help.

There are many treatments available for verrucae. But there is a lack of high quality evidence evaluating verrucae treatments, especially in children, and more research needs to be undertaken. Current evidence shows many traditional treatments are often not very effective.

small verruca on the side of the left second toe

So what should you do?

  • Firstly, is it a verruca? Have the lesion checked by a HCPC Registered Podiatrist to ensure that it is a verruca and get some advice about what to do.

  • Do not panic! – we do not want your child to become anxious about the situation. If your child isn’t complaining about the verruca monitor it for any changes and do not rush into treatment.

  • If the verruca is painful book an appointment with your local Podiatrist. The discomfort is generally caused by the build up of hard skin over the verruca. Your podiatrist can pare this back for your child and give you advice about managing the hard skin to keep your child comfortable while you wait for the immune system to do its job. Often no further treatment is needed, and the verruca eventually resolves.

verruca on the base of the left big toe

What about treatments you can do at home?

 

Unless under the supervision of a health or medical professional, please avoid the use of any of the topical verruca gels or ointments on your child’s fragile skin as they can do more harm than good. These generally contain acid which can damage the skin, potentially causing burns, ulceration, infection and scarring. We have seen many sore feet caused by the use of some of these products, with the verruca remaining! The freezing treatments you can buy can also damage the healthy skin around the verruca and are not particularly effective.

Alternative/complementary/homeopathic remedies – there is no evidence that these are effective for verrucas

Do not use duct tape – this contains industrial chemicals and is NOT skin friendly. Your Podiatrist can you advise you about other types of tape you can cover the verruca with, such as zinc oxide tape, to keep the verruca softer and more comfortable by occluding and trapping moisture in it.

Do not file the verrucas. It may be tempting to file the hard skin down to reduce discomfort however there is a strong risk of damaging the surrounding healthy skin and spreading the virus, leading to more verrucas.

Do not pick the verruca – this can cause the spread of verrucas to the hands.

The patient should avoid sharing footwear to prevent spreading the virus to friends or relatives.

verruca on a big toe

We have waited but the verruca is still there, what do we do next?

If your child’s verruca is particularly troublesome, or is affecting daily activities, or has been present for over two years, or is causing your child distress, then we will assess them for treatment using our Swift Microwave Therapy.

This treatment is quick and simple and works by causing heat within the verruca which stimulates an immune response. It requires no input by the patient between appointments and does not stop them going about their daily activities as normal. It does not create a wound and no dressings or padding are required.

Swift is not suitable for all children but will be considered following a thorough assessment and lengthy discussion with both the child and their parent/guardian. Please click here for more information about Swift.

 

Note that when using Swift for children we set the machine on a lower setting than we use on adults to reduce any discomfort felt and make the treatment more tolerable. We do not offer Verruca Needling to those under 16 years old. 

NB Here at Michelle Reynolds Podiatry we do not offer topical acid treatments or freezing treatments for children or adults with verrucas due to the potential for side effects and the lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness.

Please click here for more verruca information

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