Three Things Parents Need to Know About Plane Warts

Plane warts, also called flat warts or juvenile warts, are a type of wart that is common among young children. Here are three things parents need to know about plane warts.

What do plane warts look like?

Plane warts usually affect the face, hands or legs of young children. Each wart is between 2 and 4 millimeters in diameter, and kids can have a single wart or as many as several hundred warts. When multiple warts are present, they can form clusters.

While other types of warts may have a cauliflower-like appearance, plane warts are smooth. They have flat tops and smooth edges, and this can help you distinguish them from other types of warts.

How do kids get plane warts?

Plane warts are caused by a few different strains of the Human Papillomavirus. These viruses can be spread by direct contact, so if your child touches another child's warts at school or day care, they could also get warts. They can also be spread indirectly. For example, if your child touches a surface that has been contaminated with the wart virus, they could contract plane warts.

Once a child has plane warts on one part of their body, the warts can easily spread to other areas of their skin. This is especially true for warts that develop on the hands; when you child touches other parts of their body, the warts could spread.

Do plane warts require treatment?

Your child's plane warts may not require any treatment. Half of all warts in children go away on their own within six months, and nine in 10 are gone within two years, so, if the warts aren't causing any problems, your dermatologist may recommend a wait-and-see approach.

If your child's plane warts are causing problems, you may not want to wait for them to go away on their own. If the warts are in a visible location, they may make your child feel self conscious. Warts that lie in the path of clothing seams can also be uncomfortable.

Many treatments are available, if necessary, including salicylic acid gels. These gels are available over-the-counter, but stronger preparations are available with a prescription. Plane warts can also be frozen—either with over-the-counter freezing treatments or in-office cryotherapy—if gels don't work.

If you think your child has plane warts, take them to a doctor for diagnosis. Their doctor can also recommend a dermatologist if he or she sees fit.