Warts in Children: How to Protect Your Child

How To Protect Your Child From Warts

Anywhere from 10% to 50% of children in the world get warts during their childhood. There are many different kinds of warts, however, Common Warts or Flat Warts are typically the types of wart that children usually get. Warts in children are caused by a simple viral infection known as HPV or Human Papillomavirus. They are actually benign tumors that grow from an infected skin cell called keratinocytes. A child can become infected by skin to skin contact, picking up the towel of someone infected by HPV or even swimming in a swimming pool with an infected person. Although the virus is not terribly contagious, it can enter the body through a small open cut or sore, usually on the hands, feet or face after coming into contact with it. The virus seems to be attracted to warm, moist areas on the body and once infected it may take up to a year for the wart to become visible. Some children with lower immune systems may be more susceptible to contracting the HPV that causes common or flat warts.

Warts on children usually go away on their own, but they can be embarrassing or they may itch. In some cases, they may cause pain or spread to other parts of the body. Warts appear as a raised bump shaped like cauliflower with tiny black specs in the middle. These are actually broken blood vessels. The wart may feel rough or grainy to the touch. It may be tiny or it may grow larger and spread to other places on the body. It is important to instruct the child not to scratch or pick at the wart as this will likely cause it to spread or maybe even bleed. If the child’s wart is becoming bothersome, there are a few things that a parent can do.

Keeping the area clean and dry is very important towards helping the wart to go away. One traditional home therapy involves the use of duct tape. This procedure takes many months of patience. It appears that the duct tape irritates the wart and this may trigger the immune system into action to fight against it. Simply cover the area with duct tape for a period of six days. After that, remove the duct tape and soak the wart in warm soapy water. Then file the wart with an emery board or pumice stone, being careful not to injure the surrounding skin. This process is repeated for several months and eventually, the wart may go away.

Another home therapy treatment is the use of over-the-counter medicines that contain salicylic acid. If these treatments do not work, you may wish to take your child to a pediatrician or a dermatologist. They may recommend cryotherapy or a freezing procedure to remove the wart. They also may recommend laser treatment. These methods are usually not painful, but even if they work after multiple treatments, there is no guarantee that warts will not return. Another method of treating stubborn warts is called Cantharidin. This is actually a substance that has been extracted from a blister beetle and it is applied directly onto the wart. Minor surgery can also be performed whereby the wart is cut off or destroyed with an electric needle. This can be painful and leave a scar, so many parents will only consider it as a last resort.

If your child’s wart starts growing larger very rapidly, changes color or shape or starts bleeding more than just a few spots, then it’s time to seek medical attention. The best way to prevent warts is to keep cuts, rashes, scrapes, and bites clean, dry and covered. Encourage your child not to bite his/her fingernails and avoid touching anyone who is infected with HPV or common warts.


US Food and Drug Administration





David Christian

David Christian studied Philosophy at Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis, MO and served in the US Army. He is the Head Writer, Subject Matter Expert and Dr. Coordinator at warts.org. Find out more about David here.

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