Most of us have warts somewhere in our body at some point in our lives. It can be possible that we never have an idea that they are actually present, because some are barely noticeable and are not annoying. That is because most warts don’t make us sick or cause a health problem. They simply disappear on their own.

A wart (also called verruca) is a viral skin infection which appears as a small area of hardened skin in many sizes, colors, and shapes, usually having a bumpy surface. Warts are common and are caused by a virus, specifically by the human papilloma virus or HPV. The virus tends to invade warm, moist places, like the fingers, hands, and feet. They are contagious when in contact with the skin of an infected person or by touching anything someone with a wart has used.

Unfortunately, warts are more common in children than in adults. Different kinds of warts grow on different areas of the body, caused by different infecting strains of the virus.

• Common warts appear as raised, dome-shaped, grayish-brown lesions that usually grow on the hands and feet. Most commonly caused by types 1, 2, and 3 strains of the HPV, common warts have a characteristic rough surface with black dots inside.

• Flat warts are smooth and have flat tops. They are small and about the size of a pinhead, usually found on the child’s face. It can also be found on arms, knees or hands. HPV type 1 strain is responsible for flat warts.

• Plantar wart is the only type of wart which can really hurt. Found usually on pressure points of the sole of the foot, these warts grow as hard, oftentimes painful lumps, with few black specks on the center. It is commonly caused by type 1 and 2 strains of HPV.

• Filiform warts are flesh-colored with finger-like appearance, that usually grow on the eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Genital warts are rarely found in children. They are caused by HPV strain types 6, 11, 16, 18, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40 and others, and specifically found on the anal, penile, vaginal, and cervical areas in adults. This is the only type of wart which is sexually transmitted. HPV types 16 and 18 are strongly associated with cervical cancers in females, if left untreated.

Warts in children do not cause much treatment concerns unless it causes pain or discomfort in children. The treatment depends on the type of wart, so it is always best to consult it with a doctor. Besides, there are warts like plantar warts, which are not easy to differentiate from corn and calluses. Treatment options include prescription medicine, cryosurgery, laser treatment, and surgical removal.

However, in general, it’s not necessary to have the warts removed. Without treatment, they can go away in several months or even years. Removal of a wart is only warranted if it’s painful or too discomforting for the patient. Also, some warts recur several months after removal.

Although children are not really free from acquiring warts because of the high communicability of the virus, it is still best to take preventive measures. It is always a good idea to encourage your kids to wash their hands and skin regularly and properly. To protect against plantar wart and other infections, have them wear waterproof sandals or slippers in public showers, pools and locker rooms. It is also wise to make them aware to not use somebody else’s towels or touch anything that has been used by somebody with warts. And if your child has warts, remind him not to rub, scratch or pick at a wart to avoid spreading it to other parts his body.