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Warts in Children

What are warts?

Warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by the papillomavirus. Warts are more common in children than adults, although they can develop at any age. Warts can spread to other parts of the body and to other people. There are many different types of warts, due to many different papillomavirus types (more than 100). Warts aren't painful, except when located on the feet. Most warts go away, without treatment, over an extended period of time.

Common types of warts

The following are the more common types of warts:

  • Common warts. Growths around nails and the back of hands; usually have a rough surface; grayish-yellow or brown in color.

  • Hand and foot warts. Located on the soles of feet (plantar warts) or the palms of the hand (palmar warts) with black dots (clotted blood vessels that once fed them); clusters of plantar warts are called mosaic. These warts may be painful.

  • Flat warts. Small, smooth growths that grow in groups up to 100 at a time; most often appear on children's faces.

  • Genital warts. Grow on the genitals, are occasionally sexually transmitted; are soft and don't have a rough surface like other common warts.

  • Filiform warts. Small, long, narrow growths that usually appear on eyelids, face, or neck.

Treatment for warts

Specific treatment for warts will be determined by your child's doctor based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the growths

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the growths

  • Your opinion or preference

Warts in children often disappear without treatment. Treatment of warts depends on several factors, including:

  • Length of time on the skin

  • Location

  • Type

  • Severity

Treatment may include:

  • Application of salicylic and lactic acid (to soften the infected area)

  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen

  • Electrodesiccation (using an electrical current to destroy the wart)

  • Immunotherapy

  • Laser surgery

Online Medical Reviewer: Haines, Cynthia, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 2/2/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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