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Warts Are Most Often Spread through Family and Classrooms, Not Public Spaces

Update Date: Apr 22, 2013 01:26 PM EDT

Commonly spouted wisdom tells parents to be careful of their children picking up warts from public spaces. That is why people generally advise people to cover warts with bandages while visiting public pools, for example. A study recently conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands has found that people do not most commonly pick up warts in the commonly villainized public places. Instead, most people pick up warts through relatively intimate contact in the home or in school.

According to MedPage Today, most children develop cutaneous warts from certain strains of the human papilloma virus. Though the virus has entered public consciousness due to genital warts, which are spread through sexual contact and may lead to cervical cancer, the virus is not the same.

Researchers spent 18 months tracking warts in schoolchildren in the Netherlands. The children were between the ages of four and 12 and attended one of three primary schools in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands, Health Day reports. Because warts most commonly appear on hands and feet, the study began with a researcher examining the hands and feet of the 1,100 children. In addition to the examination, parents were asked to complete a questionnaire in which they detailed how much time the children spent in public spaces, playing sports and which, if any, family members at home had warts. At the beginning of the study, a third of the children had warts.

The researchers found that the greatest risk factors for the development of warts were a higher incidence of warts in the classroom and living in a home with family members who had warts. A personal history of warts had no bearing on whether children developed warts; the researchers write that it is possible that children who have previously had warts may have an immune system reaction that makes them less susceptible to the condition.

Researchers suggest that public health measures against the spread of warts should target transmission in the home and in the classroom. Prevention of the spread should be relatively simple; covering warts with bandages inside the home would go far against the spread.

According to, 80 percent of warts go away on their own within six months. Other treatments include freezing the warts off and immune therapy; both are likely to cause scarring.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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