700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Warts: What They Are and How to Treat Them

Apr 10, 2017

Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a virus and can vary in size and appearance. They are spread person-to-person through touch and typically appear on the hands and feet.

Warts fall into three categories: common, plantar, and flat. There are several types, and their appearance depends on where they are growing. They are usually skin-colored and rough to the touch, but can also be dark, smooth and flat. Warts can be large or small, single or in a group.

  • Common warts are usually found on the hands, fingers, and around the fingernails.
  • Plantar warts are usually found on the soles of the feet and may have black dots at the surface. These are typically painful and more difficult to treat.
  • Flat warts may be found anywhere on the body but most commonly occur on the face in children, appearing in clusters.

It is common for warts to disappear without treatment in weeks or months, but they can also last for years. They don’t have to be removed, but if your child’s warts are itchy, painful, bothersome or increasing in size or number, they should be treated.

Treatment for removal can include:

  • Burning
  • Freezing (liquid nitrogen)
  • Chemicals
  • Surgical and laser treatments

Depending on the stubbornness, it may be necessary to use more than one form of treatment. Talk with your child’s doctor to determine which method is best.

Help your child prevent warts by doing the following:

  • Make sure your child washes their hands well after touching one
  • Encourage your child to not pick at warts, as this can spread the virus that causes them
  • Teach your child not to bite fingernails or hangnails

Open sores increase chances of getting warts, so be sure to monitor any that your child may have.

Contact your child’s doctor if you are interested in removal, and follow up if there are problems afterward, such as infection or if it comes back.

Helping Hand
Learn More About Warts in Our Helping Hand

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Mike Patrick, MD
Emergency Medicine; Host of PediaCast

Dr. Mike Patrick is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Medical Director of Interactive Media for Nationwide Children's Hospital. Since 2006, he has hosted the award-winning PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. Dr. Mike also produces a national podcast for healthcare providers—PediaCast CME, which explores general pediatric and faculty development topics and offers free AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to listeners.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.