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Common Warts

By Katherine E. Penny, D.O.

Common Warts image

Common warts are local growths on the skin, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, also known as HPV. If your child has a wart, you will notice a hard, tiny bump on the skin. The bump can be white, pink or brown and the inside may appear to have a black dot or speck that looks like a hair.

It is common for warts to appear on the hands, fingers, arms and feet, but can show up anywhere on the body. Generally, warts are harmless and do not cause any pain. However, warts on the feet (planter warts) can be very painful.

Children are more likely to get warts than adults. Those who bite their fingernails and hangnails, and those who have weak immune systems are even more prone to getting the virus.

Treatment of Warts

Warts eventually go away on their own. However, they may cause children to be self conscious about their appearance. If your child appears to have a wart, you should have a physician look at it to determine that it is in fact and wart before beginning any type of treatment. The physician will also want to look at the wart to ensure it is not a cancerous growth.

Never try to treat a wart on an infant or young child without the supervision of a physician. If your older child has a wart (and a physician has confirmed it is indeed a wart), you may want to try one of these approaches:

  • Leaving the wart alone. A wart may disappear without treatment. Some may last 2-3 years.
  • Trying an Over the counter (OTC) medicines. Lotions, plasters and ointments are sometimes effective. Never use OTC medicines for warts on a child under 6 years of age.
  • Covering the wart. Use a piece of adhesive tape or duct tape to cover the wart. By depriving the wart of air and sun, it may die on its own.
  • Visiting a doctor. Your child’s doctor may remove the wart by freezing.

Warts are contagious. You can help your child prevent the spreading of warts by encouraging them not to pick at the wart. Explain to your child that warts on the hands can spread to the face, mouth and nose when they bite fingernails or pick their nose.

When to See a Doctor

If warts develop on the feet, genitals, or face, new warts develop after 2 weeks of treatment, the warts are still present after 8 weeks of treatment or you have other concerns or questions, contact your child’s physician.​