Most of the public health prevention information related to skin warts relates to public places, like swimming pools. But are these really where warts are most commonly passed on?
A recent study found that elementary age children are more likely to catch the virus causing skin warts from their family or classroom than from a public place.
These researchers recommend that prevention measures focus on families and schools, rather than on public place regulations.
The study, led by Sjoerd C. Bruggink, MD, of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Leiden University in the Netherlands, looked at how warts appear to most commonly spread.
They were focusing only on the type of warts that are spread by a virus called the human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are many strains of HPV, and they were not focused on the strains transmitted through sexual activity.
The researchers investigated the hands and feet of all the children in grades 1 through 7 at three primary schools in the Netherlands. The children were aged 4 to 12.
After the initial inspection, the children were checked again for warts between 11 and 18 months later.
Meanwhile, the parents of the children filled out questionnaires about whether children had previously had warts, whether anyone in the family had them and whether the child used public places where transmission could occur, such as public swimming pools.
Among the 1,134 children attending the schools, 97 percent participated, and 77 percent of the parents filled out the questionnaires.
Overall, 29 out of every 100 children developed warts each year. White-skinned children were a little more than twice as likely to develop warts than children without white skin.
The risk of developing warts was higher among children whose family members or class members had them. Children were twice as likely to develop warts if a family member had them and 20 percent more likely to get them if they were found among classmates.
"The degree of HPV exposure in the family and school class contributes to the development of warts in schoolchildren," the authors wrote.
"Preventive recommendations should focus more on limiting HPV transmission in families and school classes, rather than in public places."
The study was published April 22 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation of Health Research and Development and Fund Common Diseases. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.