This image displays common warts on the face, most likely from transferring the wart virus from the child's fingers.
This image displays common warts on the face, most likely from transferring the wart virus from the child's fingers.
Warts often have a rough, multi-pointed surface, like this wart near the eye.
Warts often have a rough, multi-pointed surface, like this wart near the eye.
This image displays the thick and rough surface typical of a wart.
This image displays the thick and rough surface typical of a wart.
This image displays the
This image displays the "black dots" typical of warts, which are clotted, fine blood vessels in the skin.
Warts can have a thick scale, which sometime become loose, as in this infant.
Warts can have a thick scale, which sometime become loose, as in this infant.
This image displays multiple warts on the lips.
This image displays multiple warts on the lips.

Images of Common Wart (6)

This image displays common warts on the face, most likely from transferring the wart virus from the child's fingers.
Warts often have a rough, multi-pointed surface, like this wart near the eye.
This image displays the thick and rough surface typical of a wart.
This image displays the
Warts can have a thick scale, which sometime become loose, as in this infant.
This image displays multiple warts on the lips.

Common Wart

Warts are common growths on the skin that are present on 5–10% of all children. They are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts appear as circular raised flesh-colored growths that have a roughened, irregular surface. Common warts (verruca vulgaris) occur most frequently on the fingers, backs of the hands, face, knees, and elbows. They are usually not painful and are harmless. Warts will usually resolve on their own and do not require any treatment.

Who's At Risk?

All populations of people can have warts, but they are rare in children under the age of 2 years. Infants who are affected were usually infected during the birthing process. If mothers have genital warts, they can be passed to their infants during vaginal birth. It is unclear how common warts are spread in young children; it is thought they are spread through direct contact if there is a break in the skin. However, they do not appear to be highly contagious.

Signs & Symptoms

Warts may occur singly or in multiples and often have multiple small black “dots” at the surface from tiny blood vessels.

  • Common warts are rough, thick, and either skin-colored, pink, or white bumps from 1 mm to over 10 mm in size.
  • Filiform warts are long and narrow, like tufts of thread, and usually small at the base (1–3 mm).

Infection can be described as:

  • Mild – Just one or few painless lesions
  • Moderate – 10-20 lesions, which are painless
  • Severe – Over 20 lesions, pain that limits normal life activities, or bleeding

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Self-Care Guidelines

Before trying any self-care measures, your child’s doctor should see him or her.

Because warts can resolve on their own, it is not necessary to treat all warts. Additionally, treatment of warts may not always destroy them, nor will it necessarily keep other warts from appearing. Treatment can be painful and cause scars and might need to be repeated, so it should only be done in cases where the warts are highly bothersome or interfere with daily life.

Family members should avoid sharing personal items such as towels.

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Treatments

If an infant has warts, the doctor will check the baby to make sure there are no warts in the breathing passages.

If treatment is needed, it might include:

  • Destruction with freezing (cryosurgery); burning (electrocautery); laser; or cantharidin, podophyllin, tretinoin, or acid application
  • Injection of chemotherapy drugs
  • Application of imiquimod, an immunotherapy agent, or other chemicals that induce an allergic reaction to destroy the wart

Visit Urgency

Any infant with warts should be checked by the doctor.

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References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.28, 1221-1222, 1229. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed. pp.2122, 2124-2125, 2148. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.