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First Aid: Warts

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
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First Aid

Warts are common skin infections. They can affect any area of the body, but tend to happen on the fingers, hands, elbows, and bottom of the feet. Warts usually don't cause serious problems, so they may not need to be removed.

There are several types of warts, including common warts, flat warts, and plantar warts.

Signs and Symptoms

Of a common wart:

  • located on back of hands, around nails, and in the mouth, or at the site of cuts and scratches
  • a small flesh-colored bump
  • a rough surface that looks like cauliflower
  • pink or white soft bumps in the mouth
  • tiny black dots inside the wart

Of a flat wart:

  • located on the face, neck, arms, or legs
  • small smooth bumps with a flat top
  • flesh-colored or pink to light brown
  • may be in groups of 20 to 100

Of a plantar wart:

  • located on the sole of the foot
  • pressed into the skin
  • tiny black dots inside
  • may be painful

What to Do

Without treatment, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years for a wart to go away. Ask your doctor to recommend wart removal treatments.

Get Medical Care if:

  • a young child or infant has a wart anywhere on the body
  • the wart is on the face, genitals, or anal area
  • the wart becomes painful or red
  • the wart is swollen, bleeding, or oozing pus

Think Prevention!

There's no way to prevent warts, but it's always a good idea to teach kids to wash their hands and skin often. If your child has a cut or scratch, use soap and water to clean the area because open wounds are more likely to develop warts and other infections. If a wart develops, make sure your child doesn't scratch the area.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: July 2018