Warts are caused by a virus that infects the outer layer of skin. Warts can occur
anywhere on the skin. The most common type is a raised, rough bump on the
hands. Some children will get only a few warts, whereas other will get dozens. In
most children, the wart virus evades the child’s immune system and it may take 1
to 2 yeas to develop immunity.
The more warts a child has, and the larger the wart, the harder they are to treat.
Warts on the bottom of the foot are called plantar warts. Sometimes warts are not
as raised and rough; these are called flat warts and are often seen on the face.
Warts may persist for 1 to 2 years or even longer if untreated. Although they may
spread and be unsightly, they are harmless.
There is no treatment that specifically kills the wart virus. There are many
treatments for warts because no single treatment is very effective. Common
treatments include freezing the wart, burning it with a laser, or applying chemicals.
The goal of treatment is to kill the skin that contains the wart virus. It may take
many treatments to get rid of warts.
Warts that are frozen will often develop a blister or blood blister within 1 to 2 days.
If a blister develops, soak the skin in warm soapy water, and then gently open the
blister. Wart liquids and plasters frequently turn the skin white. Every 2 or 3 days,
soak the wart in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes. Rub off the dead white skin
with a washcloth. Cutting the wart is likely to spread the wart. A vascular laser is
less painful for the child than freezing, and works just as well.
Imiquimod (Aldara) cream will cause the skin cells to make interferon. This is the
body’s natural wart virus-fighting chemical. Apply the cream to each wart daily.
Often treatment is needed for 4 to 8 weeks. When the wart gets red, you may stop
using the cream on that wart, then restart after the redness is gone.
Overnight Wart Treatment
1. Soak in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes (until skin is soft and wrinkled).
2. Trim dead wart tissue with a pumice stone or nail file.
3. Apply wart stick or other medicines with salicylic acid. Medicines with
salicylic acid often soften and remove the top layer of skin where the virus
4. After the medicine has dried, cover the wart with adhesive tape, such as duct
tape, and leave overnight.
5. Repeat the treatment every night. If the wart becomes tender, inflamed, or
red, skip the treatment until there is no more irritation. Often a treatment
every other or every third day is enough.
Sometimes an allergy will develop to the medicine. If severe redness, itching or
blisters develop, stop the treatment and call the office.
Spanish version #7452
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this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#7451.