Don’t Fear: Warts are Common in Childhood

By Timothy J. Flynn, M.D.

What causes warts?

Warts are caused by viruses.

How are warts diagnosed?

Most warts can be diagnosed by examining them. Rarely, a biopsy may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

What are some risk factors for warts?

Anything that causes skin breakdown can predispose a person to developing warts. In particular, children with eczema sometimes develop warts in their trouble areas. This is especially true for children who scratch at those eczema patches. Additionally, some families notice that warts get “passed around” from one person to another.  But not to worry, the vast majority of children with eczema will not have issues with warts.

I have heard many warts will go away on their own. Is that true? How long does it take?

Yes, most warts will go away on their own. It is very unpredictable how long it will take. Sometimes it is as short as a few months. Other times it takes several years.

What are some reasons to treat warts rather than wait for then to go away?

Some warts (particularly on the bottoms of the feet) can be painful. Other times the appearance is bothersome to a child or draws unwanted attention. And some families simply prefer not to wait and would rather try medical treatment to hasten the resolution.

What treatment options are available?

Duct tape is a common home remedy that does not have great scientific evidence behind it but is safe and cheap and might be worth a try. There are also over the counter and prescription medications that can be used. Cryosurgery (“freezing”) is another treatment that can often be performed in your doctor’s office.

If you are concerned, we are happy to see your child to discuss a customized treatment plan for any warts.

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