Expert Advice

Warts in Children

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q
My granddaughter, age six, has a wart on one of her fingers. It seems to be enlarging. Is this a concern for her age? Or will she outgrow it?
A
Warts are not uncommon in children. They frequently occur on the fingers and they also occur commonly on the feet or on the face. Warts are caused by different types of viruses. In general, you don't need to do anything specifically for a wart because over the course of three to twelve months, most will usually stop growing and go away. However, the warts can cause some discomfort and can occasionally be large enough to interfere with specific activities that a child needs to do. They generally are not pleasant to look at, and in older children, the warts may make them self conscious.

There are different products that you can get in the drugstore to put on the wart to help it go away faster. Most of these products are fairly irritating as they all contain some sort of an acid. You must be careful to put the medication only on the wart and not on the surrounding skin. More significant warts (or large numbers of warts) can be treated in the doctor's office with liquid nitrogen or other treatments. In general, I would say that if the wart is fairly small and is not affecting her at all, I would leave it alone and wait for it to go away on its own.

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

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