Warts: Brief Version

What are warts?

Warts are raised, round, rough-surfaced growths on the skin. They occur most often on the hands. They are not painful unless they are on the bottom of the foot (called plantar warts). Unlike a callus, a wart has brown dots in it and has a distinct boundary with the normal skin. Warts are caused by viruses.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Cover the wart with duct tape.

    Cover the wart with a small piece of duct tape. Warts deprived of air and sun exposure sometimes die without the need for treatment with acids. Remove the tape once a week. Wash the skin and rub off any dead wart tissue. After it has dried thoroughly overnight, reapply duct tape. The tape treatment may be needed for 8 weeks.

  • Use wart-removing medicine

    To get faster results with duct tape, also use a medicine that contains 17% salicylic acid.

    Put the medicine on the wart once a day. Cover the wart with duct tape after you put the medicine on the wart.

    The medicine will turn the top of the wart into dead skin. Once or twice a week, remove the dead wart material by paring it down with a disposable razor or pumice stone. The dead wart will be softer and easier to slice if you soak the area first in warm water for 10 minutes. If the cutting causes any pain or minor bleeding, you have cut into living wart tissue.

  • Try not to spread the warts.

    Encourage your child not to pick at the warts because this may cause the warts to spread. If your child chews or sucks the wart, cover the area with duct tape and change it as often as necessary. Warts are not spread very easily to other people.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • Warts develop on the feet, hands, genitals, or face.
  • New warts develop after 2 weeks of treatment.
  • The warts are still present after 8 weeks of treatment.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-23
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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