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When Your Child Has Warts

Warts are small growths on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body and be any size. Warts are harmless. But they may bother your child if they appear on areas such as the face or hands. Warts can often be treated at home. Talk to your child’s doctor if you or your child has questions or concerns.

What Causes Warts?

Many warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can spread between people. But you can be exposed to the virus and not get warts.

Closeup of fingers with common warts near fingernail.

Closeup of bottom of foot showing plantar wart near big toe.

Closeup of face showing flat warts on forehead.

What Are Common Types of Warts?

  • Common (verruca) warts are cauliflower-shaped warts. They often appear on the hands and other parts of the body.

  • Flat warts are raised, with smooth, flat tops. They often appear in clusters on the face and other parts of the body.

  • Plantar warts appear on the soles of the feet. They can be very painful.

 

NOTE: Your child may have dome-shaped bumps with dimples in the middle. These bumps may look like warts, but they are likely caused by molluscum contagiosum. They require different treatment from warts. Ask your child’s doctor for more information about how to treat this condition if you think your child has it.

 

How Are Warts Diagnosed?

Warts are diagnosed by how they look and by their location. To get more information, the doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. The doctor will also examine your child. You will be told if any tests are needed. The doctor will refer your child to a dermatologist (skin doctor) or podiatrist (foot doctor), if needed.

How Are Warts Treated?

Warts generally go away on their own, but the amount of time varies and may range from weeks to years. Speak with the doctor about options to treat warts. These can include:

  • Medication creams. These can usually be bought over the counter or are prescribed by the doctor. Use a pumice stone to remove dead skin above the wart before applying any medications. A foot soak can also help soften the wart.

  • Closeup of hands holding child's foot over water basin and using pumice stone on bottom of foot. Special cushions. These can be applied to the wart to relieve pressure and reduce pain.

  • Occlusive therapy. Duct tape may reduce the time it takes for a wart to go away. Duct tape should be placed over the wart as instructed by the doctor.

  • Office procedures to remove a wart. These include surgery, cryotherapy (removal by freezing), or electrocautery (removal by burning).

It’s important to remember that even after treatment, it may take about 4 weeks to see results.

Call the doctor

Contact your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • A wart that doesn’t respond to treatment

  • A plantar wart that causes ankle, foot, or leg pain

  • Signs of infection around a wart (pus, drainage, or bleeding)

 

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