Warts are harmless skin growths caused by a virus. Warts can grow on any part of the body. Their appearance depends on their location. On the face and tops of the hands, warts are raised. On the soles of the feet the tissue becomes thickened from the pressure of standing, and the warts (called plantar warts) are flatter. Walking on plantar warts is often painful. Warts have a rough surface on which tiny, dark dots can often be seen.

Warts are common and can be a nuisance. They may bleed if injured. Common warts never turn cancerous. Since warts are caused by a virus, they are contagious. Warts may spread on the body or to other children. We don't know why some people get warts while others never get them. There is no way to prevent warts.

Treatment

Since we are unable to kill the wart virus, there is no single perfect treatment of warts. In the past, most treatments were physical means used to destroy the outer layer of skin that the wart grows on and thus ridding the body of the wart. This can be done with chemicals, by freezing with liquid nitrogen or with laser surgery.

Recently, techniques to stimulate the immune system and clear the warts by mimicking the way our body naturally clears warts have been introduced. An oral medication that stimulates the immune system has been used for warts that are multiple and difficult to resolve. Another immune stimulant is applied at home directly to the wart. The treatment to be used on your child's wart depends on its location and size, your type of skin and the judgment of the dermatologist.

Sometimes, new warts form while existing ones are being destroyed. All we can do is treat the new warts when they become large enough to be seen. No matter what treatment is used, warts occasionally fail to disappear. Warts may return weeks or months after an apparent cure. Don't be concerned if a wart recurs; call to make an appointment for further therapy. The treatment may be repeated, or a different method may be used to get rid of them.

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists from the Division of Dermatology, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). You can also request an appointment online.

 
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