KidsMD Health Topics

Warts

  • Overview

    Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by the papillomavirus that can appear in different parts of the body. The most common types of warts are common warts, foot warts, flat warts, genital warts and filiform warts.

    • Warts are more common in children than adults.
    • Warts can spread to other parts of the body — and to other people.
    • Warts are not painful, except when located on the feet.
    • Most warts go away, without treatment, over an extended period of time.


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    Boston Children's Hospital 
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115

     617-355-7701
     fax: 617-730-0505
  • In-Depth

    What are warts?

    Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by the papillomavirus. Warts are more common in children than adults, although they can develop at any age. Warts can also spread to other parts of the body and to other people.

    There are many different types of warts, due to the fact that there are more than 100 different papillomavirus types. Warts are not painful, except when located on the feet. Most warts go away, without treatment, over an extended period of time.

    Common types of warts

    The most common types of warts are:

    Common warts

    • growths around nails and the back of hands
    • usually have a rough surface
    • grayish-yellow or brown in color

    Foot warts

    • located on the soles of the feet
    • also known as plantar warts; visible black dots in the warts are clotted blood vessels that once fed them
    • clusters of plantar warts are called mosaic; may be painful

    Flat warts

    • small, smooth growths that grow in groups up to 100 at a time
    • most often appear on children's faces

    Genital warts

    • grow on the genitals
    • occasionally sexually transmitted
    • soft and do not have a rough surface like other common warts

    Filiform warts

    • small, long, narrow growths that usually appear on the eyelids, face or neck
  • Children's warts often disappear without any treatment. Specific treatment will be determined by your child's physician based on:

    Treatment of warts depends on several factors, including:

    • length of time on the skin
    • location
    • type
    • severity

    Treatment may include:

    • application of salicylic and lactic acid, both of which soften the infected area
    • freezing with liquid nitrogen
    • electrodesiccation, or using an electrical current to destroy the wart
    • immunotherapy
    • laser surgery
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