Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I see so many kids with warts. Warts are caused by viruses and can be a real nuisance. Because warts are due to viruses, they are contagious and may be acquired without a person even knowing where they contracted the virus. Some people seem to be susceptible to the virus and may get warts recurrently, while others have never had a wart. I typically see warts in children after the age of 3, all the way to adults.

The most common areas to see warts on children are on the fingers and hands, arms, knees, and feet. Because they are contagious, could bleed when traumatized, and may spread, it's important to not pick at a wart or try to remove them with scissors or nail clippers. Avoid friction and rubbing, even with lotions or while shaving, as this may spread the warts.

For many children, the best treatment is none at all, as the wart may go away by itself, though it can take months or years for that to happen.

In some cases, if a wart is becoming bigger or spreading, you may use an over-the-counter (OTC) wart treatment that contains salicylic acid. According to Dr. Margaret Lemak, a practicing dermatologist in Houston, Texas, it's important to be consistent when using these preparations. For warts on the bottom of the feet (plantar warts), you can use a stronger salicylic acid (40 percent plasters). It may take several weeks to months for the wart to go away.

The OTC liquid nitrogen freezing canisters that have been on the market for several years may be successful in treating a small wart, but at the same time I've seen this cause painful blistering, and the affected area may be uncomfortable for 24 to 48 hours. I usually don't recommend these and have had little success using them myself.

If these treatments are unsuccessful or the warts are becoming unsightly, it's probably time to take your child to a dermatologist for further treatment. According to Dr. Lemak, the dermatologist may freeze and scrape the wart, or prescribe a cream that can be used at home.

Warts often recur in the same area, so after treatment it's important to continue to be observant for two to three months looking for a recurrence.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.


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Health - The Kid's Doctor: Wart Treatments Vary