How to Treat Warts in Children and Teens

Treatment of Warts in Children and Teens-MainPhoto

Warts are growths on the skin caused by a virus (human papillomavirus). They are very common, most often occurring in children, teens, and young adults. Warts can spread from person to person through physical contact.

There are different types of warts. The most common types in children are flat warts (on the face), plantar warts (on the feet) and common warts (on the hands, elbows and knees).

Although generally harmless, warts can be bothersome, both for cosmetic and physical reasons. Answering the questions below will help you understand more about possible treatment options for warts. However, if you are not sure that something is a wart, ask your doctor for advice and do not try to treat it at home.

Let’s Begin

While most warts are harmless, some may be more serious, especially for certain people.

What color is the wart?

The wart is the same color as my child’s skin.

The wart is a different color than my child’s skin.

Call your doctor. Warts usually are “flesh-colored,” the same color as the skin. Any wart that looks different should be examined by a doctor.

That’s good. Most harmless warts are flesh-colored.

The features of a wart that cause concern include:

  • appearance of additional warts (warts that seem to be spreading)
  • getting bigger despite treatment look
  • look “punched out”
  • look different in the middle than at the edges

Does the wart have one or more of these features?

Yes, this describes the wart.

No, this does not describe the wart.

That’s good, too. It sounds like your child has a typical wart.

A child who has problems with his or her infection-fighting (immune) system is likely to have a more difficult time getting rid of a wart.

Does your child have an impaired immune system?

Yes, my child has problems with the immune system.

No, my child does not have problems with the immune system.

Warts don’t always need to be treated in healthy children. Over time, they will usually get better. If and when treatment is used, most therapies will be very effective in children with healthy immune systems. That is because all of the treatments seem to work by stimulating the body’s immune system to get rid of the wart.

Does your child’s wart do any of the following:

  • cause pain, itching, or burning
  • bleed when rubbed or bumped against something
  • bother your child

Is the wart large or are there many warts?

Are you worried that the wart will spread elsewhere on your child or to another child?

The answer is yes to one or more of these questions.

The answer is no to all of these questions.

Since you answered No to all these questions, you and your child may want to consider not treating the wart(s). Most warts will go away without any treatment within three years.

If your child’s wart is growing, changing, or bleeding frequently, call your doctor.

Would you like to learn more about treatment options or exit this guide?

Learn more about treatment options.

Exit this guide.

Since you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you and your child may want to consider treating the wart(s).

Keep in mind that most warts will go away without any treatment. However, this can take up to three years before the wart is gone, which may seem like a long time for a child!

Remember that if your child’s wart is growing, changing, or bleeding frequently you should call your doctor.

Would you like to learn more about treatment options or exit this guide?

Learn more about treatment options.

Exit this guide.

Thank you. We hope this information has been helpful to you.

There are several different treatment options for warts, depending on the location of the wart.

Where is the wart located?

On the face

In the diaper or genital area

Hands, feet, elbows, knees or other parts of the body

Common warts are found on the hands, feet, elbows and knees of many children. They can be spread within the same area or to other areas on the body.

There are several options for treating warts on the hands, feet, elbows and knees. Some of these treatments can be tried at home. Others must be done in the doctor’s office.

These are the most common treatments you can try at home:

“Magical thinking.”

Salicylic acid.

Duct tape.

This is the one “treatment” option that can safely be tried anywhere on the body. A few studies suggest that warts will go away faster if they are “wished away.” This method, sometimes called “hypnotic suggestion,” has no risks associated with it and may also be helpful in combination with other therapies.

For a few minutes each day, help your child imagine that the wart is shrinking, perhaps thinking about special cells in their body “fighting off” the wart germs. You may want to sprinkle a “magic potion” on the wart, using something harmless like water.

Next you can learn about other home treatments, skip to treatments used by doctors or exit the guide.

Click here to learn about salicylic acid.

Click here to learn about duct tape.

Click here to learn about treatments used by doctors.

Click here to exit this guide.

Salicylic acid is available without a prescription (over-the-counter) as a paint-on liquid and a sticky patch. This painless medicine is applied every day, and usually must be used for many weeks before the wart goes away. It usually does not cause scarring.

For best results, first scrape off any dead skin on the top of the wart using a clean nail file, emery board, pumice stone, or scrub brush. Next, have your child take a bath or shower. Lightly pat the area dry with a towel and then apply the medicine; it goes deeper into the skin and works better if it is applied when the skin is still damp. If using liquid, cover the area with a bandage or piece of plastic tape. Repeat every day. The sticky patch usually comes with its own bandage. Most brands say to leave on the patch for 48 hours and then repeat the process.

If the medicine irritates the surrounding skin, put petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the wart before applying the medicine.

Next you can learn about other home treatments, skip to treatments used by doctors or exit the guide.

Click here to learn about “magical thinking.”

Click here to learn about duct tape.

Click here to learn about treatments used by doctors.

Click here to exit this guide.

A recent study suggested that covering up a wart with duct tape (thick gray all-purpose tape found at any hardware or variety store) may help get rid of warts. While the results have yet to be confirmed in a large trial, this method, like magical thinking (above), is painless and risk-free. For this reason, you may want to try it before moving on to other options.

First, have your child take a bath or shower to soak the wart. Next, scrape off any dead skin on the top of the wart using a clean nail file, emery board, pumice stone, or scrub brush. Then cover the wart with duct tape. Leave the duct tape on for several days (in the original October 2002 study, it was six days). Remove the duct tape in the evening, then soak and scrape the wart. Again cover the wart with the duct tape in the morning. Repeat this process for up to two months.

Next you can learn about other home treatments, skip to treatments used by doctors or exit the guide.

Click here to learn about salicylic acid.

Click here to learn about “magical thinking.”

Click here to learn about treatments used by doctors.

Click here to exit this guide.

If the home treatments (“magical thinking,” salicylic acid, and/or duct tape) aren’t helpful, there are treatments your doctor or dermatologist can offer, including:

  • freezing, using liquid nitrogen. This works by causing a blister to form around the wart; when the dead tissue sloughs off, so does the wart. It may take several treatments to work, and some children find it uncomfortable.
  • Cantharidin is a medication that doctors can paint onto the warts that sometimes helps them go away. Again, repeated treatments may be necessary.
  • Aldara is a prescription cream that increases the body’s immune response to the wart.
  • minor surgery or laser surgery is usually reserved for hard-to-treat warts, as there is a risk of infection or scarring.

Sometimes a dermatologist will inject medication such as bleomycin into a wart, but this too is reserved for special cases.

If the wart is bleeding frequently or has changed in appearance, you should call your doctor.

You and your doctor will decide if treatment can be carried out in the office or whether a visit with a dermatologist (a skin specialist) makes sense.

Click here to exit this guide.

We hope this information has been helpful to you.

Warts in the diaper or genital area are uncommon in children. They are caused by different types of human papillomaviruses than warts elsewhere on the body. These viruses may be passed from mother to baby during the delivery or from another caretaker while changing diapers.

In adolescents and adults, these types of human papilloma viruses can be picked up during sexual contact.

The genital area is delicate and genital warts require special treatment. Do NOT try to treat genital warts at home. Call your doctor.

Flat warts on the face are common in children. They can be spread on the face or to other areas on the body. Because the skin on the face is delicate, it is best if these warts are treated under a doctor’s supervision.

Call your doctor to decide the best course of treatment for your child’s wart.

Call your doctor. Children who have problems with their immune system can sometimes have more serious problems with warts.

Call your doctor. Warts that are spreading despite treatment, getting larger, or breaking down in the middle should be examined by a doctor.

Keep reading: Page 1 of 1

Next