Warts on the skin are harmless growths. They are caused by a virus. Warts can spread to other parts of the body and to other people.
Warts are caused by a type of human papillomavirus (HPV). Different types of warts are caused by different types of papillomaviruses.
Warts are more common in children than adults, but they can happen at any age. A person is more at risk for warts if they have either of these:
Warts are usually not painful, except when one is on the bottom of a foot. There are many different types of warts. They each look different. The types of warts and their symptoms include:
The healthcare provider will give your child a physical exam. A healthcare provider will usually diagnose warts based on their appearance. They may use a small blade to scrape away the top layers. There may be black dots beneath the top layers. These are tiny blood vessels that have clotted. Your child's healthcare provider may recommend that your child see a skin specialist (dermatologist). The dermatologist may do a shave biopsy to verify the diagnosis. A very small amount of the wart is shaved and sent to the lab to be examined.
Most warts go away in months to years with no treatment. Common warts can often be treated with over-the-counter products. Treatment of warts depends on:
Some treatment methods may cause pain and burning in the area treated. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about which treatments would cause the least pain and work best for your child. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Warts may be difficult to treat and may return.
Warts can spread to other parts of the body and to other people. It can be spread by skin to skin contact. The virus may be spread by towels or other personal items. You can help prevent the warts from spreading. Make sure your child:
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child has warts that:
The pediatric specialists at Children's National Hospital have the expertise to diagnose, treat and manage conditions of the skin, nails and hair common in infant and younger patients. Discover more about the treatments we offer.
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The Division of Dermatology at Children's National Hospital continues to expand services as more families seek our expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.