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Categories > Children’s Health > Infectious diseases

House Calls: Treating warts

Q: My son seems to keep getting warts on his hands. How should I treat them?

A: Common warts—small, hard bumps of skin that resemble a head of cauliflower—are a viral skin infection caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). No one is really sure how kids get HPV, but experts agree that it’s not from touching frogs. Most warts are harmless and will go away on their own. But some warts become painful if they’re bumped or touched often or are on the soles of the feet. A simple wart on the hand can be treated with an over-the-counter wart remover. These are strong chemicals, so use as directed and be patient. It may take weeks of treatment for the wart to crumble or peel away from the surrounding healthy skin. Apply the medicine and cover with a bandage. Tell your child not to pick, rub or scratch at it to avoid spreading.

See your pediatrician if your child has multiple warts or has a wart on his or her face, genitals or rectum or has one that becomes painful or infected.