May 18, 2015

Why Do Children Get Warts? Warts are a common benign viral infection. In this Q and A, a Children's expert answers the question: Why do children get warts and what's the best way to get rid of them?

When you think of warts, do slimy frogs or toads waiting to slather their wart juice on unsuspecting hands come to mind? Or roots that anchor the wart from the top of the skin down to the bone?

There are a lot of fantasies and fallacies out there like these when it comes to warts. So we would like to share one mom's simple question of why kids get them and what can be done to cure them. Read what our expert has to say and then leave us a comment to let us know what common wart stories you heard growing up.

Q. Why do children get warts, and what is the best way to get rid of them? — Dionne H.

Dr. Nnenna G. Agim
Nnenna G. Agim, M.D.

A. Warts, also called verrucae, are a common benign viral infection of the skin or mucous membranes caused by members of the human papilloma virus family. Most children will be infected at some point in their lives, and how quickly the warts spread or resolve depends on a child’s immune system. Over time, the immune system of most healthy children will learn to fight the virus, and the wart lesions will resolve. Most healthy children need no treatment, though many over-the-counter and prescription options are available for those who do. Each treatment has risks and benefits, of which you should be fully informed before deciding on an intervention. Because the virus takes advantage of broken skin, children should:

  • Not go barefoot in shared moist areas (bathrooms, locker rooms, swimming pool decks)
  • Avoid scratching, which breaks the skin and spreads the virus to other areas
  • Keep skin moisturized and nails trimmed

— Nnenna G. Agim, M.D., division director of Pediatric Dermatology at Children’s and assistant professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern.