Talk to your teen

 

Take time to talk to your teenDo you wonder if any communication actually occurs when you talk to your teen? We invite you to read this post for some coaching on how to talk to your teen in ways that they will find palatable.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD

©2019 Two Peds in a Pod®




Update on Gardasil vaccine: yes, it is safe and effective


“Should I give my kid the Gardasil® vaccine?” Friends and relatives, as well as our patients’ parents, continue to ask us this question.

Our answer is always: “Yes.”

Gardasil® vaccine is the current HPV vaccine on the United States market. The vaccine prevents cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus from infecting a person’s body. HPV cancers include cervical cancer in women, penile cancers in men, and cancers of the mouth and throat in everyone. The vaccine also protects against genital warts.

According to the  Centers for Disease Control report, nearly 90 million HPV vaccines were distributed from June 2006 through March 2016. That’s a lot of vaccinations. In the US, the large majority of HPV vaccine given was the Gardasil® vaccine.

You can read a detailed report of the way the safety of the vaccine was studied here

Here are the updates:

  1. The vaccine prevents cancer-causing strains of HPV from infecting teens and young adults. You can read the latest study about this here. 
  2. The vaccine is still safe. The HPV vaccine has still NOT caused any deaths, has NOT caused cases of premature ovarian failure, and has NOT caused any new chronic pain syndromes or neurologic diseases. If you read on the internet or on Facebook any gory tales about Gardasil, you can check those stories on “Snopes.” This website determines whether a popular internet story is a myth or a fact. 
  3. Your child may need only two doses of HPV vaccine instead of three. We now know that younger teens achieve immunity with fewer doses than older teens. So, if your child gets the FIRST dose of this vaccine prior to his 15th birthday, then he needs only one more dose of vaccine 6 months later. Those starting the Gardasil® vaccine on or after their 15th birthday still need 3 doses of vaccine for maximum protection against the disease.
  4. If your child has a weak immune system, they also might need three doses. Children with weakened immune systems (check with your child’s pediatrician) should get 3 doses of Gardasil®.
  5. Teens and tweens are more likely to feel dizzy or to faint after all vaccinations, not only after the HPV vaccine. There are reports that HPV vaccine causes kids to faint, but fainting may occur with any teen vaccine. It is well known that surges of anxiety can cause fainting.  Although they are older, teens are often very apprehensive about getting vaccines. Babies and toddlers rarely faint. Although a toddler may be mad about a vaccine injection, they are not anxious. To prevent any light headedness, your teen’s doctor may have them sit for a few minutes after a vaccine. 

There’s a reason why we give the vaccine “so young.” Once people are infected, the vaccine does not work as well. Even though it may be difficult to imagine your child needing protection from a sexually transmitted disease, prevention of cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus is most effective when HPV immunization is given well before your kids have had any exposure to the virus.

Yes, the HPV vaccine is safe, and yes, we gave it to our own kids.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
2019 Two Peds in a Pod




Help prevent your teen from playing risky games

Prevent your teen from taking unnecessary risks

Some games are riskier than others and it’s hard for teens to tell the difference.

Remember playing “Truth or Dare” as a kid? Some of the dares were silly, some potentially embarrassing, but some were downright risky. Now our children are playing potentially dangerous games. How can you prevent your teen from taking unnecessary risks?

To understand why kids would play risky games such as the Cinnamon Challenge or the Laughing Game, let’s step into the mindset of a teenager. Don’t let their adult-like appearances deceive you. Based on what we know about teenage brain development, teens are more likely to misinterpret or mislead social cues and emotions and to engage in risky behavior. Even though your teens may be taller than you, their deductive reasoning skills are not fully developed until around 25 years old. They have difficulty thinking through long term plans.

Take a simple example of studying. If they stay up very late studying, they do not consider that this will cause impairment in cognition the next day and consequently they are forced to stay up even later to understand class material. Further, because teens also are impulsive, they will typically check their cell phones multiple times while studying, which further pushes off bedtime. Days later, when it comes to taking a test in class, their cumulative sleep deprivation leads to poor focus and poor memory retrieval.

Applied to more dangerous situations and coupled with peer pressure, even a “good teen” may take unnecessary risks. Teens truly believe that they cannot die. Even if they know others who have died, they don’t think it can happen to them. So they may be more likely to run across a busy street, try getting high off of a friend’s Adderall, or drive distracted while checking social media on their phones.

Teen peer pressure + immature teen brain = disaster potential.

As parents, you do have some power to prevent disaster. You can teach your teens the tools you have acquired through the years to help them consider all potential consequences of their actions.

Here are some ways parents can teach:

  • Tell kids to pause first before playing any game. Think “What is the worst that can happen if I play the game, win or lose?” If the worst case scenario is severe injury or death, DON’T PLAY THE GAME. Remember that kids feel invincible.
  • Teach directly by allowing kids to take small risks. Like we’ve said before, hold tight, but remember to let go. If your child chooses not to study for a test in school, then let them fail the test. However, make sure they study for the final exam.
  • Teach indirectly through anecdotes, either from your own childhood or events you hear about. For example, your kids might not consider that the beach they visit with you every summer can hold danger. Tell them about the family I know who lost their teen to drowning while swimming too far and was caught in a riptide on an unguarded beach.
  • Teach kids that you cannot always save them. You cannot magically can save them if they get hit by traffic on a dare.
  • Know where your kid and your kid’s friends are developmentally and supervise accordingly. Volunteer to host the gatherings where a game may occur. Hint: Go down into the basement often with food-the kids will be happy to see you and you can be a better spy.
  • Keep ’em busy so that they do not play risky games simply out of boredom.
  • Give your kid a way out of an uncomfortable situation. Let them know they can always say, “I can’t, my parents would kill me.”

Unfortunately life is not all fun and games. Remind your kids that playing Monopoly or video games is not the same as taking real life risks.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®




Poison ivy: stop the itch

Stop the itch of poison ivy and avoid touching the plant in the first place

Teach your child to recognize poison ivy: “leaves of three, let’em be!”

Recently we’ve had a parade of itchy children troop through our office.  The culprit: poison ivy.

Myth buster: Fortunately, the rash of poison ivy is NOT contagious. You can “catch” a poison ivy rash ONLY from the plant, not from another person.

Another myth buster: You can not spread the rash of poison ivy on yourself through scratching.  However, where  the poison (oil) has touched  your skin, your skin can show a delayed reaction- sometimes up to two weeks later.  Different  areas of skin can react at different times, thus giving the illusion of a spreading rash.

Some home remedies for the itch:

Hopping into the shower and rinsing off within fifteen minutes of exposure can curtail the reaction.  Warning, a bath immediately after exposure may cause the oils to simply swirl around the bathtub and touch new places on your child.

Hydrocortisone 1%-  This is a mild topical steroid which decreases inflammation.  We suggest the ointment- more staying power and unlike the cream will not sting on open areas, use up to four times a day

Calamine lotion – a.k.a. the pink stuff- This is an active ingredient in many of the combination creams.  Apply as many times as you like.

Diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl)- take orally up to every six hours. If this makes your child too sleepy, once a day Cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec) also has very good anti-itch properties. Some doctors recommend giving it twice a day- ask your pediatrician.

Oatmeal baths – Crush oatmeal, place in old hosiery, tie it off and float in the bathtub- this will prevent oat meal from clogging up your bath tub. Alternatively buy the commercial ones (e.g. Aveeno)

Do not use alcohol or bleach– these items will irritate the rash more than help

The biggest worry with poison ivy rashes is the chance of infection.  Just like with an itchy insect bite, with each scratch, your child is possibly introducing  infection into an open wound.  At night, turn up the air conditioning and put your child into pajamas that cover up the poison ivy. Kids who don’t scratch in the day often scratch subconsciously at night. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an allergic reaction to poison ivy and an infection.  Both are red, both can be warm, both can be swollen.

However, infections cause pain – if there is pain associated with a poison ivy rash, think infection.  Allergic reactions cause itchiness- if there is itchiness associated with a rash, think allergic reaction.  Because it usually takes time for an infection to “settle in,” an infection will not occur immediately after an exposure to poison ivy.  Infection usually occurs on the 2nd or 3rd day of scratching.  If you have any concerns take your child to her doctor.

Generally, any poison ivy rash which is in the area of the eye or genitals (difficult to apply topical remedies), appears infected, or is just plain making your child miserable needs medical attention.

When all else fails, comfort yourself with this statistic: up to 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy.  If misery loves company, your child certainly has company.

Naline Lai, MD and Julie Kardos, MD
©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®




Discussing suicide: how much should I tell my kids?

how to breech the topic of suicide

In the wake of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade’s deaths from suicide, you may be wondering how to address the topic of suicide with your child.  We bring back psychotherapist Dina Ricciardo’s post  for guidance:

“Hi, it’s me, Hannah.  Hannah Baker.” So begins the first episode of 13 Reasons Why, a thirteen installment Netflix series that focuses on the aftermath of the suicide of a 17-year-old high school student.  Based on the novel by Jay Asher, the series has sparked quite a bit of debate and concern among parents and mental health professionals.  At its best, the series has served as a conversation starter; at its worst, it has glamorized suicide and the fantasy of revenge.  At the end of the day, however, an important question remains:  How do we talk with our kids about suicide?  While many difficult topics have become increasingly safer to discuss, suicide is one that is still shrouded in secrecy and shame. In fact, it is so difficult to talk about that I had a hard time writing this post.  Finding the right words about something that often remains unspoken is not an easy task.  So if circumstances require it, how are we to explain suicide to our children?

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, research has shown that over 90% of people who died by suicide had a diagnosable, though not always identified, brain illness at the time of their death.  Most often this illness was depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, and was complicated by substance use and abuse.  Just as people die from physical illnesses, they can die as the result of emotional ones.  If we can change the narrative about suicide from talking about it as a weakness or character flaw to the unfortunate outcome of a serious, diagnosable, and treatable illness, then it will become easier for us to speak with honesty and compassion.

Telling the truth about any death is important. While it is natural for us adults to want to protect our children from pain, shielding them from the truth or outright lying will undermine their trust and can create a culture of secrecy and shame that can transcend generations.  We can protect our children best by offering comfort, reassurance, and simple, honest answers to their questions. It is important to recognize that we adults typically offer more information than our children require.  We should start by offering basic information, then let them take the lead on how much they actually want to know.

For young children, your statements may look something like this: “You have seen me crying, that is because I am sad because Uncle Joe has died.”  They may not even ask how the death occurred, but if they do, you can say “He died by suicide. That means he killed himself.”  The rest of the conversation will depend on the child’s response.  With older children, the narrative can follow a similar theme yet use more sophisticated language.  The older the child, the more likely they are to ask direct questions.  Some examples of honest answers are “Do you know how people have illness in their bodies, like when Grandma had a heart attack and our neighbor had cancer?  People can get illness in their brains too, and when that happens, they feel confused, hopeless, and make bad decisions. Uncle Joe didn’t know how to get himself help to stop the pain.”  If they ask how the suicide occurred, you can say “With a gun” or “She cut herself.”  Sometimes you will have to say “I don’t know. I wish I knew the answer.”  Whatever the age of your child, do your best to use simple, truthful language.

Regardless of age, children converse about and process death differently than adults.  If you tell your child about a suicide, it is likely that he/she will want to talk about multiple times over the course of days, weeks, or even years.  Keep the dialogue open, and check in with them periodically if they have questions.  If you find that you or your family is in need of the support of a professional, you might want to consider a bereavement group or a trained professional who specializes in grief.  These resources are available through online directories, local hospitals, and the Psychology Today therapist finder.  Overall, be aware that providing truthful information, encouraging questions, and offering loving reassurance to your children can allow your family to find the strength to cope with terrible loss.

(Excerpts taken from The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Talking to Children about Suicide”, www.afsp.org.)

Links:

Sesame Sreet Workshop’s When Families Grieve
The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Hands Holding Hearts (Bucks County, PA)
The Jed Foundation

Dina Ricciardi, LSW, ACSW

©2017 Two Peds in a Pod®

Guest blogger Dina Ricciardi is a psychotherapist in private practice treating children, adolescents, and adults in Doylestown, PA. She specializes in disordered eating and pediatric and adult anxiety, and is also trained in Sandtray Therapy. Ricciardi is a Licensed Social Worker and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She can be reached at dina@nourishcounseling.com.In the wake of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s deaths from suicide




Stealthy Salmonella! Not just in your eggs

salmonella

Raw chicken left out overnight—Dr. Lai’s recipe for Salmonella

These days it seems that the bacteria Salmonella is lurking everywhere. Last month’s egg recall for possible Salmonella contamination affected over 200 million eggs, but Salmonella is not just in eggs. In the last few months, dried coconuts and even guinea pigs (as pets, not as food!) have caused people gastroentestinal misery.

Nontyphoidal Salmonella usually causes fever and crampy diarrhea. Sometimes the stools contain blood. This stomach bug mainly lurks in raw poultry, raw eggs, raw beef, and unpasturized dairy products. Luckily, Salmonella does not jump up and attack humans. In general, people are safe from disease as long as they do not eat salmonella-infested food. But children below the age of five often put their hands in their mouths and can acquire Salmonella after touching a  contaminated source.

Reptiles such as  lizards and turtles can carry Salmonella in their stool and are not recommended as pets for young children. Turtles that are four inches or smaller (about the size of a deck of playing cards) are most likely to harbor the bacteria. As a preschooler, Dr. Kardos remembers that her tiny pet turtle suddenly disappeared. Her parents told her that “Her pet would be happier if it went outside to the stream to swim with the other turtles.” In retrospect, Dr. Kardos thinks her pediatrician dad was worried about Salmonella and made the turtle magically disappear.

Even cute little chicks can be problematic. Salmonella carried in the gut of a chick can contaminate the entire surface of a chick. So, although kissing and cuddling a chick makes for a good Instagram post, discourage your children from doing so.

Unfortunately, you cannot depend on a warning stench arising from your lunch to warn you that it is inedible. Salmonella often hides in food and it is difficult to tell what is or is not contaminated. So how can you prevent your kids from catching Salmonella?

Luckily Salmonella is killed by heat and bleach. Even if an otherwise fine-looking and odorless raw egg has Salmonella, adequate cooking will destroy the bacteria. Gone are the days when parents can feed kids soft boiled eggs in a silver cup, have kids wipe up with toast the yolk from a sunny-side up egg, add a raw egg to a milkshake, or let their kids lick the left-over cake batter from the mixing bowl. Instead, cook hardboiled eggs until the yolks are green and crumble, and make sure your scrambled eggs aren’t runny. Wash all utensils well. The disinfecting solution used in childcare centers of ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon water works well to sanitize counters. Do not keep perishable food, even if it is cooked, out at room temperature for more than two hours. And wash, wash, wash your hands.

A mom once called us frantic because her child had just happily eaten a half-cooked chicken nugget. What if this happens to your child? Don’t panic. Watch for symptoms — the onset of diarrhea from Salmonella is usually between 12 to 36 hours after exposure but can occur up to three days later. The diarrhea can last up to 5-7 days. If symptoms occur, the general recommendation is to ride it out. Prevent dehydration by giving plenty of fluids. My simple rule to prevent dehydration is that more must go in than comes out.

Although of unproven benefit, antibiotic treatment may be considered if your child is at risk for overwhelming infection, including infants younger than three months old and those with abnormal immune systems (cancer, HIV, Sickle Cell disease, kids taking daily steroids for other illnesses) or those with chronic gastrointestinal tract diseases*. Using antibiotics to treat a typical case of salmonella not only promotes general antibiotic resistance, but also does not shorten the time frame for the illness. In fact, the medication can prolong how long your child carries the germ in his stool.

Pictured above is a pot of chicken Dr. Lai accidentally left out overnight one warm summer night. Yuck.

Naline Lai, MD and Julie Kardos, MD

©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

*Red Book, 2015 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics




How to treat your kid’s allergies: sorting out over the counter medications

Gepetto always said his son had allergies, but the villagers knew better

 

It’s not your imagination. This is a particularly bad spring allergy season. We didn’t need media outlets to tell us that there are more itchy, sneezy, swollen eyed kids out there this year.

It is worth treating your child’s allergy symptoms- less itching leads to improved sleep, better ability to pay attention in school, improved overall mood, and can prevent asthma symptoms in kids who have asthma in addition to their nose and eye allergies.

Luckily, nearly every allergy medication that we wrote prescriptions for a decade ago is now available over-the-counter some of which you may be able to obtain from an online pharmacy. As you and your child peer around the pharmacy through itchy blurry eyes, the displays for allergy medications for kids can be overwhelming. Should you chose the medication whose ads feature a bubbly seven-year-old girl kicking a soccer ball in a field of grass, or the medication whose ads feature a bubbly ten-year-old boy roller blading? Its it better to buy a “fast” acting medication or medication that promises your child “relief?”

Here is a guide to sorting out your medication choices:

Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines differ mostly by how long they last, how well they help itchiness, and their side effect profile. During an allergic reaction, antihistamines block one of the agents responsible for producing swelling and secretions in your child’s body, called histamine. Prescription antihistamines are not necessarily “stronger.” In fact, at this point there are very few prescription antihistamines. The “best” choice is the one that alleviates your child’s symptoms the best. As a good first choice, if another family member has had success with one antihistamine, then genetics suggest that your child may respond as well to the same medicine. Be sure to check the label for age range and proper dosing.

First generation antihistamines work well at drying up nasal secretions and stopping itchiness but don’t tend to last as long and often make kids very sleepy. Diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl) is the best known medicine in this category. It lasts only about six hours and can make people so tired that it is the main ingredient for many over-the-counter adult sleep aids. Occasionally, kids become “hyper” and are unable to sleep after taking this medicine. Opinion from Dr. Lai: dye-free formulations of diphenhydramine are poor tasting. Other first generation antihistamines include Brompheniramine (eg. brand names Bromfed and Dimetapp) and Clemastine (eg. brand name Tavist).

Second and third generation antihistamines cause less sedation and are conveniently dosed only once a day. Cetirizine (eg. brand Zyrtec) causes less sleepiness and it helps itching fairly well. Give the dose to your child at bedtime to further decrease the chance of sleepiness during the day. Loratadine (brand name Alavert, Claritin) causes less sleepiness than cetirizine. Fexofenadine (brand name Allegra) causes the least amount of sedation. The liquid formulations in this category tend to be rather sticky, the chewables and dissolvables are favorites among kids. For older children, the pills are a reasonable size for easy swallowing.

Allergy eye drops: Your choices for over-the-counter antihistamine drops include ketotifen fumarate (eg. Zatidor and Alaway). For eyes, drops tend to work better than oral medication. Avoid products that contain vasoconstrictors (look on the label or ask the pharmacist) because these can cause rebound redness after 2-3 days and do not treat the actual cause of the allergy symptoms. Contact lenses can be worn with some allergy eye drops- check the package insert, and avoid wearing contacts when the eyes look red. Artificial tears can help soothe dry itchy eyes as well.

Allergy nose sprays: Simple nasal saline helps flush out allergens and relieves nasal congestion from allergies. Flonase, which used to be available by prescription only, is a steroid allergy nose spray that is quite effective at eliminating symptoms. It takes about a week until your child will notice the benefits of this medicine. Even though this medicine is over-the-counter, check with your child’s pediatrician if you find that your child needs to continue with this spray for more than one allergy season of the year. Day in and day out use can lead to thinning of the nasal septum. Avoid the use of nasal decongestants (e.g., Afrin, Neo-Synephrine) for more than 2-3 days because a rebound runny nose called rhinitis medicamentosa may occur.

Oral Decongestants such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine can help decrease nasal stuffiness. This is the “D” in “Claritin D” or “Allegra D.” However, their use is not recommended in children under age 6 years because of potential side effects such as rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and sleep disturbances.

Some of the above mentioned medicines can be taken together and some cannot. Read labels carefully for the active ingredient. Do not give more than one oral antihistamine at a time. In contrast, most antihistamine eye drops and nose sprays can be given together along with an oral antihistamine.

If you are still lost, call your child’s pediatrician to tailor an allergy plan specific to her needs.

The best medication for kids? Get the irritating pollen off your child. Have your allergic child wash her hands and face as soon as she comes in from playing outside so she does not rub pollen into her eyes and nose. know that spring and summer allergens/pollen counts are highest in the evening, vs fall allergies where counts are highest in the mornings. Rinse outdoor particles off your child’s body with nightly showers. Filter the air when driving in the car and at home: run the air conditioner and close the windows to prevent the “great” outdoors from entering your child’s nose. If you are wondering about current pollen counts in your area, scroll down to the bottom of many of the weather apps to find pollen counts or log into the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology’s website.

Naline Lai MD and Julie Kardos, MD
© 2018 Two Peds in a Pod®




Contribute to our Two Peds Mother’s Day post!

Dr. Kardos, on a visit home from medical school, with her mom and grandmothers, 1991.

A flash of surprise spread across her face. “You mean my mother was right? I can’t believe it!” the mom in our office exclaimed.

Many times as we dispense pediatric advice, the parent in our office realizes that their own mother had already offered the same suggestions.

This Mother’s Day, we’re asking readers for anecdotes about times where maybe, just maybe, your mom or your grandmother was right after all. If you have a photo available of your mom or grandmother with your child that you don’t mind sharing as well, we would love to post them along with your anecdotes this Mother’s Day.

Please send them along to us at twopedsinapod@gmail.com before Mother’s Day weekend.

Naline Lai, MD and Julie Kardos, MD

©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®




Kids are vaping: e-cigarettes

It’s time for another Two Peds in a Pod photo quiz.

The question: What’s depicted in this photo?

If you answered: a pen, a thumb nail drive, or an asthma inhaler, you would be wrong.

Kids use these devices, which purposely look like common innocuous objects, to inhale electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Vaping, also called “Juuling” and an even more concentrated form of vaping, called “dripping,” is unfortunately popular among teens. It’s unhealthy: the stuff that the kids are inhaling contains nicotine and other chemicals.

Ask your middle schooler or high schooler. They most likely have seen these devices if they have not actually used one.

Parents need to know kids are vaping in school as well as outside of school. Unlike conventional cigarettes, it’s easy for the kids to hide: no smoky smell, no cigarette cartons. The vaping liquid or “e-juice” comes in all kinds of “kid friendly” flavors such as gummy bear, fruit, or chocolate, and the devices needed to inhale them look like items in every kid’s pencil case or backpack.

It’s easy for kids to get the e-juice on the internet because online stores don’t always ask for proof of age (legal age to buy is 18 years in the US). Adults can even get cannabis vapes equipped with the best 510 thread battery. Most e-juices contain nicotine, which is addictive. Emerging data show that kids who vape are more likely to go on to use regular cigarettes than kids who do not vape. E-cigarette and vapes were originally marketed to help people quit smoking, but due to online celebrities pulling off cool looking vape tricks, children are being encouraged to vape to look “cool”! So much on the industry’s claim to help decrease cigarette use by substituting vaping fluid.

Bottom line: Although vaping products, like the ones found at Vaping360 can be a good way to quit smoking for adults, vaping, or using electronic cigarettes, is unhealthy and addictive, and startlingly easy for kids to hide.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®




Worry wart: how to treat a wart

wart treatment

Nope, warthogs don’t actually have warts. But kids often do!

Emma’s dad and I both peered at the filamentous growth dangling from his nine year old’s right nostril.  “Yes,” I said, “it’s definitely a wart.”

Emma’s dad offered, “When I was a kid, I heard the way to get rid of a wart was to cut a potato in half, rub it on the wart, and bury the potato in the backyard. Legend had it, by the time the potato disintegrates, the wart will be gone.”

“I wish it were so easy,” I replied.

Warts are caused by skin-dwelling viruses. On the feet, warts can sometimes be mistaken for calluses.  One distinguishing feature is that warts sit in the skin like this:

wart treatment kids

Fine “feeder” blood vessels extend from the wart into the skin. Therefore, if you scrape off the top layer of a wart, a dotted pattern usually appears from above. The dots will not appear in a callus. View from above:

wart treatment kids

There are simply no glamorous ways to get rid of warts. Most treatment modalities destroy warts by pulverizing the home they live in, a.k.a. your skin. Your doctor may be armed with various agents such as liquid nitrogen or dimethyl ether propane, which produces a chemical “freeze” and dries up the wart. Another agent called cantharidin (otherwise known as “beetle juice”) is a caustic liquid derived from the blister beetle. Application of beetle juice causes the warts to blister.

Some doctors will even manually take a scalpel and cut out the warts.

Like I said, there are no glamorous treatments. However, more gentle creams which stimulate the immune system, such as Imiquimod (Aldara) show some promise in children. Other compounds such as 5-fluorouracil can be topically applied or injected and treatments such as pulsed dye laser therapy have mixed reviews.

Over-the-counter remedies exist in a milder form.  Commonly used wart removers such as Compound W, Dr Scholl’s Clear Away Wart, and Duofilm all contain salicylic acid.  The acid slowly dries up the warts.  When applying salicylic acid, after a few applications make sure you peel the dead crusty top layer off  the wart. Without peeling, future medicine will not reach the wart.  These methods can take weeks to months to work, but they do work.

And don’t forget the duct tape.  Duct tape, the great all-purpose household item, has also been shown to speed up the resolution of warts. Scientists hypothesize the constant presence of the adhesive somehow stimulates a natural immune response.  If you try duct tape, have your child wear the duct tape over the wart for several days in a row and then give a day off. If the wart is on a hand or foot, the tape tends to fall off during the day: just re-apply some tape at bedtime. Effects should be seen within a couple of months if not sooner. Now, the original study that showed duct tape was helpful, was followed by a study which showed duct tape was not helpful. Some hypothesize that the results differ because silver sticky duct tape was used in the initial study, while the later study used less sticky duct tape. So be sure to use the old-fashioned silver duct tape.

The prevention of warts is tricky.  Some people just seem genetically predisposed.  However, your best bet for keeping warts away is to keep your child’s skin as healthy as possible.  Warts tend to gravitate towards areas of skin broken down by friction such as feet or fingers. Liberally apply moisturizing creams daily to prone areas.  After a summer of wearing flip-flops and walking on the rough cement by the side of a swimming pool in bare feet, many children end up with warts on the bottom of their feet.  I know a teen whose warts on the tips of her fingers stemmed from months of guitar strumming.

Turns out that even without treatment, 60% percent or more of all warts will disappear spontaneously within two years.

Coincidentally, I think that’s also the time it takes for a potato half to disintegrate.

Naline Lai , MD and Julie Kardos, MD

© 2009, 2018 TwoPeds in a Pod®