There are many different types of sexually transmitted infections. One of them is genital warts, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. When a person thinks of an STI, they almost always think of sexually active adults. Something that is interesting, however, is that there can be instances when children get genital warts. Because the strains of HPV that cause warts on the genitals differ from the virus that causes common or plantar warts on other areas of the body, a child can’t spread a wart from their hand onto their genitals, or vice versa. Although HPV is spread primarily through regular sexual activity, there are various other ways in which it can be transmitted.
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Ways in Which Children Can Contract Genital Warts
You may wonder what exactly is causing genital warts in a child. First, let’s talk about transmission in general. Genital warts is an infection with no known cure. It is almost always transmitted through sexual contact, and is the most easily spread of all the sexually transmitted infections. Once contact is made and the virus spreads to you, it will eventually settle into the upper layer, or epithelial cells, of your genital skin. There it lies dormant and inactive until reactivating suddenly, replicating until it comes through the skin as a wart.
These warts are most often spread through genital-on-genital contact, although it’s not the only way. Oral sex can also spread the infection from mouth to genitals, and vice versa. The mouth and throat are the only other places besides the genitals that HPV can produce warts.
To get even more information on what causes genital warts, click here.
The most common ways that children contract genital warts:
- Assault: Because HPV is spread primarily through sexual contact, it is important to find out if the reason for the child’s genital warts was due to sexual assault. Rape or molestation can spread the infection to them, producing not only long-term physical health issues, but severe psychological and emotional problems as well. If you suspect your child has been the victim of any type of sexual assault, contact police immediately.
- Maternal-Fetal transmission: When a mother is infected with HPV, she may worry about complications that come with pregnancy and genital warts. The good news is that the infection won’t cause complications with the pregnancy. The growths will be monitored throughout the months to make sure that they aren’t blocking the urethra or birth canal, but otherwise, nothing special needs to be done. However, there is a low chance that HPV can pass to the baby. Many times, the baby’s body will rid itself of the infection without treatment. But sometimes, the child will develop genital warts. In extremely rare cases, a baby can develop what is called “Respiratory Papillomatosis,” a dangerous condition where warts grow in the child’s throat. Treatment is essential for this and usually consists of laser therapy.
If pregnant, always make sure you tell your physician about your genital warts. Even though it rarely causes complications with the fetus, if the warts grow to be large enough, they can block the birth canal. If this happens, the delivery is much more difficult and complicated.
Can my child get genital warts without sexual contact?
There is a chance that your child can become infected with genital warts through the touching of regular objects. The human body regularly sloughs off its epithelial layers of skin in which the virus resides. Because of this, there may be viral-filled skin cells in places like underwear or towels used by the infected. If your child touches these object to their genitals, there is a possibly of transmission taking place.
Do genital warts go away? If you’d like to read even more details on the topic, go here.
What to Look For and Why You Should Care
Are you wondering if what you’re seeing on your child is something else besides genital warts?
When considering a diagnosis, remember these characteristics when it comes to HPV:
- Color: Genital warts are usually flesh colored, but they vary sometimes and can be somewhat darker.
- Grouping: The warts almost always appear in a grouping of several at a time, forming clusters in different areas of the genitals.
- Location: The places where HPV can produce warts include the vagina, cervix, clitoris, urethra, anus, penis and scrotum.
- Surface: Typically, the surface of one of these warts will have a cauliflower-like appearance to it.
It may not seem like a big deal to some people, to have warts on their genitals. It can go away either on its own or with treatment, so why worry about it, right? Wrong. There are numerous complications that come with the infection that you need to consider when your child has genital warts.
HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women. If your child has genital warts, their risk of the cancer increases and regular, diligent monitoring is essential, as the cancer is almost always treatable if found early. The risk also increases for cancer of the anus, penis, and vagina. If your child has genital warts inside their throat, the chance for throat cancer is also higher. Always work with a doctor to regular testing and monitoring.
Treatment Options for Children With Genital Warts
Are you wondering if you even need to do something about the genital warts on your child? Some may think that it’s different than adults, that the issue can be handled differently. Unfortunately, genital warts in children must be approached with the same care as for adults.
But don’t worry, even if your child has contracted genital warts, there are ways that they can still lead a normal life. Always consult a physician when both seeking a diagnosis and treatment, as the way they handle the genital warts in children may be more delicate. There may need to be extra monitoring because of their young age. For more detailed information on genital wart testing, go here.
- Therapy: If your child has contracted the infection as a result of sexual assault, a wise treatment option is therapy. The act of molestation is traumatic for anyone, but even more so for a child. Seeing a licensed therapist can help to prevent the psychological repercussions that can come with the sexual abuse.
- Gardasil: Prevention is even better than treatment. Gardasil is a vaccine that will prevent the types of HPV that cause genital warts. It is an injection given to both girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 26.
- Laser therapy: This kind of treatment uses a hot focus laser to burn the warts from the skin.
Topical cream or gel: This method takes the most time, but is the least invasive. Either at home or with the help of a doctor, a cream or gel is applied to the warts to destroy it over a few weeks’ time.Information
The reason a doctor is needed for much of the treatment process when it comes to topical lotion or cream is because of the nature of the ingredients. They work like an acid to burn the wart tissue away, and so can cause damage to the delicate, regular tissue of the genitals if not applied carefully.
- Surgical: A physician will use a scalpel or other sharp instrument to cut the genital warts out of the skin.
- Cryotherapy: Using liquid nitrogen, a doctor freezes the wart tissue, destroying it and the entire wart.
The warts in children that appear on the genitals may cause them and their parents great distress. But if found early, treated, and monitored, they can live a long and happy life.