Warts are very common during childhood. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but most commonly seen on the feet and hands. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus. Warts can be spread to others but they are not highly contagious. A wart will disappear without treatment in 2-3 years, but can spread and grow in size. Home treatment for warts will probably take a 2-3 month commitment. This type of treatment is recommended for uncomplicated warts. Dermatological treatment for warts is recommended for a large wart, multiple or clustered warts, warts that are infected, or warts on the face or lips.


Warts are a type of infection caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. There are at least 70 types of HPV viruses. These viruses are present everywhere—they are one of the most common childhood skin conditions. Warts can grow on all parts of your body. They can grow on your skin, on the inside of your mouth, on your genitals and on your rectal area.

Are they Contagious?

Yes. Warts on the skin may be passed to another person when that person touches the warts. It is also possible to get warts from using towels or other objects that were used by a person who has warts. Warts are typically spread when the virus touches a part of the skin where the outer protective layer is broken, either by minor trauma or by moisture.


Sometimes, warts disappear on their own, although it may take many months, or even years, for the warts to go away—the body’s immune system expels the virus and the wart disappears. About 25% are gone within 3-6 months and 65% disappear within 2 years. Warts will not leaves scars, though some of the more aggressive wart therapies might. Some warts will not go away on their own no matter how long they are observed. It is not known why some warts disappear and others don't.

Home Treatment

Over the counter wart home treatment (wart patches, like Duofilm or liquid acid, like Occlusal)

  1. Soak child's foot/hand in tub to soften wart for at least 15 minutes
  2. Remove the dead surface (pale, white skin) of the wart by gently rubbing the wart with the rough side of a disposable emery board. Try not to cause bleeding.
  3. Apply a patch or a drop or two of acid directly to the wart
  4. Cover the wart with a bandaid, then a generous amount of adhesive tape on top of the bandaid. The patch and acid must have skin contact at all times
  5. Leave in place for 48 hours and then repeat steps 1-5 every other day, do not skip any treaments

Directions for duct tape treatment:
Most duct-taped warts disappeared within 28 days

  1. Make sure that the treatment area is clean and dry (you may use rubbing alcohol on the area and allow it to dry!)
  2. Apply a piece of duct tape cut to fit the entire wart and surrounding area.
  3. Leave the tape on for 6 days.
  4. Early on the 7th day, remove the tape, soak the area in water and then rub the wart with an emery board or pumice stone (only use for this purpose!)
  5. After 12 hours without duct tape, put a fresh piece on the wart and leave on for 6 days again. If the tape falls off – apply a fresh piece.
  6. Continue the cycle for 2 months or until the wart is gone.

When should I call the office?

   * The warts are very large or if multiple warts are present
   * The warts are very tender or on the face or genitals
   * The wart looks infected
   * You have used home treatment for 6 weeks and are not seeing improvement
   * You give up and want a dermatologist referral
   * You have other questions or concerns

Office Treatment

Applying Liquid Nitrogen

Your doctor may use liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. This treatment is called cryotherapy. This freezes the affected cells—the virus is not killed—it is released into the surrounding tissue where the body’s immune system subsequently destroys it. The connective tissue is not destroyed so the skin usually heals with little or no scarring. Applying liquid nitrogen to the wart causes a little discomfort. To remove the bulk of a wart, liquid nitrogen treatments may be needed every 1 to 3 weeks for a total of 2 to 4 times. A blister sometimes forms which crusts over and falls off.  If no improvement is noted, your doctor may recommend another type of treatment.