Is That a Wart???

November 16, 2017
Is That a Wart???

Warts are very common in childhood.

With the help of Dermatologists Dr. Jeannette Jakus and Dr. Lauren Geller, see our tips on managing warts

What and Where?

  • Warts are caused by a group of viruses called the human papillomoviruses.  The virus is spread from person to person.  You can also get the virus from touching things that have the virus on them – such as walking on a locker room floor that has the virus on it (one of the reasons to wear flip flops in the locker room!)

  • Warts can occur anywhere on the skin, most often on the hands and on the bottom of the feet.  When on the soles of feet, they are called plantar warts

  • Common warts can appear as individual small scaly skin colored raised bumps or as a group of small bumps.  They often have a “cauliflower appearance” when looked at closely .  While not typically painful, they can become painful when irritated like on the foot when getting rubbed against a shoe.

Risk Factors for Getting Warts

  • Eczema
  • Broken down skin
  • Exposure to others who have warts

Other rashes which look similar to common warts

  • Flat warts (have flat tops instead of the cauliflower appearance)
  • Molluscum contagiosum (smooth bump with a small indentation in the center)

How do you get rid of a wart?

  1. When left untreated, most warts will go away on their own within 2 years.

  2. Many people may choose to treat their warts in order to prevent them from getting larger or spreading. People may also want to treat warts when they become painful or when unsightly and occurring in areas that can be easily seen by others.

  3. Depending on the size and location, it may take several months to years to treat a wart. Treatment approaches include physically destroying the cells in which the virus lives and/or stimulating a person’s immune system to recognize and attack the wart virus.

If you want to treat at home

  1. Over the Counter Salicylic Acid 17%– comes in liquid and patch forms (use the stronger/higher dose of 40% for  warts on the palms and soles)

    • Step 1: Soak the wart for 10 minutes to soften the skin.

    • Step 2: Apply the salicylic acid directly to the wart and allow it to dry

    • Step 3: Cover the wart with classic silver duct tape and leave on for 24 hours.

    • Repeat steps 1-3 nightly until wart is resolved (this may take several weeks to months)

The wart will turn white and wrinkled – this is normal and a good sign that the skin is responding to the treatment. Every few days after soaking, scrape off the dead skin with a disposable razor, metal nail file (that can be sterilized) or by your doctor.

  1. Duct Tape Alone 

    • Cover the wart with silver duct tape for 6 days straight
    • Soak skin after removal of tape and use razor, or disposable or metal nail file to remove any dead skin
    • Repeat for up to 4 weeks
  2. Other Treatment Options 

    In office treatments by a Dermatologist or pediatrician may include the following methods:

    • Cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen)

    • Shaving off the wart

    • Laser

    • Electrodesiccation (burning off the wart)

    • Application or injection of medications including but not limited to: cantharidin, 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU), trichloroacetic acid, bleomycin, candida antigen

Your physician may also prescribe medications to use at home in-between office treatments including:

    • Tretinoin (and other retinoids)

    • Imiquimod

    • 5-FU


1. Warts should be kept covered with duct tape or a band-aid if possible to decrease spread.

2. It is important to avoid picking at or touching warts in order to prevent spread to other areas of the body – particularly the hands and nails which can be especially difficult to treat.

3. Sadly, recurrence is common!


Call your doctor if any concern about the following:

  1. The diagnosis – is the bump actually a wart?

  2. A wart not resolving despite treatment.

  3. Warts on the face or genitals/private areas

  4. You and/or your child wants a treatment that requires a prescription or doctor.


    For more information on warts, click here!


    Photo courtesy of