Warts are small, rough bumps that grow on the skin. They are caused by a virus and can spread from person to person.

What Are Warts?

Warts are benign skin growths caused by a virus. They are spread through close person-to-person contact or contact with shared objects, such as towels. Open sores or areas on the skin increase the chance of getting warts.

Warts are usually skin-colored and rough to the touch. They can also be dark, smooth or flat. Warts can be large or small, single or in a group. The appearance of the wart depends on where it is growing. There are several types of warts:

  • Common warts are usually found on the hands, on the fingers and around the fingernails.
  • Plantar warts are usually on the soles of the feet. They are flat and may have black dots on the surface. They can be painful and hard to treat.
  • Flat warts may be found anywhere on the body but often occur on the face in children. These warts often appear in clusters.

How Are Warts Prevented?

  • Wash hands well after touching a wart
  • Teach your child not to bite fingernails or hangnails.
  • Do not pick at warts. This can spread the virus that causes them.
  • Open sores increase the chance of getting warts.

How Are Warts Treated?

In children, warts can go away without treatment after several months or years. If they are itchy, painful, bothersome or increasing in size or number, they should be treated. There are many methods for removing warts, and multiple treatments are often needed to completely get rid of the wart. Talk with your child’s doctor about which method is best.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your child’s doctor if:

  • You want to have your child’s warts treated.
  • There are problems after a wart is treated, such as infection or the wart coming back.

Helping Hands Patient Education Materials

Written and illustrated by medical, nursing and allied health professionals at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Helping Hand instructions are intended as a supplement to verbal instructions provided by a medical professional. The information is periodically reviewed and revised to reflect our current practice. However, Nationwide Children's Hospital is not responsible for any consequences resulting from the use or misuse of the information in the Helping Hands.

HH-I-293  | ©2009, revised 1/16, Nationwide Children’s Hospital