Warts are nothing more than a minor skin infection caused by a common virus. It holds no more mystical power than the viruses that cause the common cold. As a virus, it can be passed from one person to another. What is annoying about this virus is that it tends to cause warts for extremely long period of time, and there is no quick and easy way to get rid of them. It's not uncommon for some children to suffer from warts for many years.
Managing parent expectation is one of the pediatrician's most important roles. Even though there are numerous ways to treat warts, none of them is satisfactorily effective. Most methods of treatment require multiple visits to the doctor's office. You must keep this in mind at the onset of therapy, or you will end up extremely dissatisfied and frustrated.
Over-the-Counter Wart Removers
The basic idea behind treating warts is to remove the wart-infected skin along with the wart virus. All treatments involve some way of getting rid of skin. Warts can often be successfully removed using over-the-counter wart remedies. These come in the form of acidic liquids, stickers, and scrubs. Usually it is a good idea to try the bandages or stickers first because these treatments do not cause any pain.
Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold to induce localized frostbite on the skin and destroy the skin along with the warts. The first thing your pediatrician will do is warn you that this treatment is excruciating. It's no exaggeration. Your child is not acting up or making a scene when he screams as if he were suffering from medieval torture. It is that painful. Parents must take this into consideration when offered this treatment option.
Despite the pain, it usually requires multiple rounds of cryotherapy before the warts disappear. This means that you have to bring your child back over and over again for this type of torture. No one said treating warts is fun, and this is the reason many pediatricians prefer the more humane method of wart management.
After cryotherapy, the frostbitten skin can form a large blood blister. The appearance of it can be alarming to parents. If a blister forms, do not intentionally pop it. Leave it alone. If it breaks by itself, you can apply a topical antibiotic ointment to it to prevent infection.
Surgical removal of warts is fast and relatively painless, but this type of surgery can only be performed by a dermatologist. Most pediatricians do not have the proper equipment or schedule to surgically remove warts, which means that you will need a separate appointment with a specialist to seek this option. Keep in mind that even surgery is not a foolproof way of getting rid of warts once and for all. Warts frequently return, and additional surgical removal is required.
This is a type of skin condition that is different from the typical wart, but the best way to think of molluscum is that it is the cousin of the typical wart. It is also caused by a virus, and it is also contagious by touch. However, this virus tends to affect different areas of the body than the typical wart. Instead of being concentrated on the fingers and hands, this virus can affect exposed skin all over the body. It is not uncommon for molluscum to occur on children's faces, which is most unfortunate.
Similar to the common wart, molluscum is purely a cosmetic annoyance. The virus does not penetrate deep into the skin. The appearance of the lesion is different from typical warts as well. Molluscum bumps look like little round drops of dew collecting on the skin. They are very small, usually only slightly bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. They often occur in clusters. Sometimes they can have a small dimple in the center of the bump. Some children find them irritating and itchy. In fact, molluscum bumps may take on a different appearance because the affected child has scratched the original rash beyond recognition.
The treatment for molluscum is similar to that for warts. Molluscum bumps tend to be more contagious than the common wart, which makes prevention of scratching even more important for this condition.