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What's Up With Warts on Children?

Why children get warts, and what parents can do.

From the WebMD Archives


Home Remedies and OTC Treatments for Warts on Children

Home remedies run the gamut. People have put castor oil on warts, or a crushed paste of vitamin C. Among the most ludicrous treatment that Stephen Webster, MD, a dermatologist at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis., has heard: rub the wart with a potato and then bury the potato, keeping its location a secret.

Other at-home treatments have research to back them up, say Webster and other experts.

Removing Warts With Duct Tape

For instance, covering the wart with duct tape has been shown to work as well as drugstore wart removers, but it takes perseverance.

Place duct tape over the wart and leave it on for about six days. Then remove the tape and soak the wart in water. Gently debride the wart with an Emery board. Repeat the whole process until the wart is gone. It may take a couple of months to completely remove the wart.

If that sounds like too much work, consider over-the-counter wart removers available at any drugstore. (First, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the growth is really a wart. Sometimes corns and calluses are mistaken for warts.)

Using OTC Wart Removers

Common wart removers available at any drugstore include:

  • Adhesive pads or solutions with salicylic acid. Clean the area around the wart, apply the solution as directed, and later remove the dead skin with an Emery board or pumice stone. The success rate is about 75%, but the process may take six to 12 weeks, says Silverberg.
  • Solutions with propane or Freon that “freeze” the wart. The success rate is about 75% after two or three treatments, Silverberg says.

Silverberg cautions: Don’t use over-the-counter wart treatments on any wart on a child’s face or lips.

When to See a Doctor About Removing Warts on Children

If OTC wart removers don’t work, you can talk to a doctor about stronger treatments. Doctors generally take two general approaches to wart treatment, says Silverberg. They can destroy the wart or boost the immune system so it will clear the wart.