Warts are a common skin condition among grade school children. They are caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted by direct contact with contaminated skin or indirectly via objects that carry the virus. To avoid transmitting the virus, public health recommendations are often issued to wear flip-flops in communal showers and to cover warts with waterproof bandages while swimming.
However, a new study, "Warts Transmitted in Families and Schools: A Prospective Cohort
," in the May 2013 Pediatrics (published online April 22), found children most often obtain warts from a family member or another child in their classroom, rather than in a public setting like a pool.
Study authors inspected the hands and feet of grade-school children in three schools in the Netherlands for the presence of warts, and again a year later. Researchers asked their parents if other family members had warts, whether the child walked barefoot at home, went to public swimming pools, used public showers and practiced sports barefoot. They also collected data on classmates and close friends who had warts. Children whose family members or classmates had warts were at higher risk of developing warts. The use of public pools or showers was not a significant risk factor.
Study authors conclude that health recommendations should shift toward reducing transmission among families and school classes, rather than in public settings. For example, covering warts at home would potentially prevent transmission more effectively than covering warts in the swimming pool.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is
an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical
subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the
health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and
young adults. (www.aap.org)