Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Warts

Definition

  • Warts are small raised growths that have a rough surface
  • Viral infection of the skin

Call or Return If

  • Warts develop on the feet, genitals, or face
  • New warts develop after 2 weeks of treatment
  • Warts are still present after 12 weeks of treatment
  • You think your child needs to be seen

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Raised, round, rough-surfaced growths on the skin
  • Skin-colored or pink
  • Most commonly occur on the hands, especially the fingers
  • Not painful unless located on the sole of the foot (plantar wart). Also can be painful if on part of a finger used for writing.

Cause

  • Warts are caused by several human papilloma viruses
  • Different types of warts are caused by different papilloma viruses

Prevention of Spread to Others

  • Avoid baths or hot tubs with other children. Reason: Warts can spread in warm water.
  • Also, avoid sharing washcloths or towels.
  • Contact sports: Warts can spread to other team members. Warts should be covered or treated.
  • Time it takes to get warts after close contact: 3 months

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Warts are common (10% of children).
  • Warts are harmless and most can be treated at home.
  • The sooner you treat them, the less they will spread.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Wart-Removing Acid:
  • Buy a wart medicine with 17% salicylic acid. There are many brands (Compound W, Duofilm, Wart-Off). No prescription is needed.
  • Apply the acid once a day to the top of the wart. If there are many warts, treat the 3 largest ones.
  • Since it's an acid, avoid getting any near the eyes or mouth. Also try to keep it off the normal skin.
  • The acid will turn the wart into dead skin (it will turn white).
Duct Tape - Cover the Wart:
  • The acid will work faster if it is covered with duct tape. Do not use regular tape.
  • If you don't want to use an acid, use duct tape alone.
  • Covering warts with duct tape can irritate the warts. This will turn on the body's immune system.
  • Cover as many of the warts as possible. (Cover at least 3 of them.)
  • The covered warts become red and start to die. Once this happens, often ALL the warts will go away.
  • Try to keep the warts covered all the time.
  • Remove the tape once per day, usually before bathing. Then replace it after bathing.
  • Some children child object to having the tape on at school. At the very least, tape it every night.
Remove Dead Wart:
  • Once or twice a week, remove the dead wart material. Do this by paring it down with a disposable razor.
  • This is easier to do than you think. It shouldn't cause any pain or bleeding.
  • Soak the area first in warm water for 10 minutes. (Reason: The dead wart will be easier to remove.)
  • Some children won't want you to cut off the layer of dead wart. Rub it off with a washcloth instead.
Prevention of Spread to Other Areas of Your Child's Body:
  • Discourage your child from picking at the wart. Picking it and scratching a new area with the same finger can spread warts. A new wart can form in 1 to 2 months.
  • Chewing or sucking on them can lead to similar warts on the face.
  • If your child is doing this, cover the wart with a Band-Aid.
  • Keep your child's fingernails cut short and wash your child's hands more often.
What to Expect:
  • Without treatment, warts go away in about 2 years.
  • With home treatment, they can usually be cleared up in 2 to 3 months.
  • There are no shortcuts to treating warts.
Return to School:
  • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for warts.
  • There is only a mild risk that warts spread to others.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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