By David F. Jaffe, M.D.

Warts are caused by the papilloma virus. These firm bumps (although they also an be flat) are yellow, tan, grayish, black or brown. They usually appear on the hands, toes, around the knees and on the face but can occur anywhere on the body. When they're on the soles of the feet, doctors call them plantar warts. Though warts can be contagious, they rarely appear in children under the age of 2.

Treatment of Warts

Your dermatologist can give you advice on the treatment of warts. Sometimes he will recommend an over-the-counter medication that contains salicylic acid. If any of the following are present, more aggressive treatment may be necessary.

Multiple, recurring warts
A wart on the face or genital area
Large, deep or painful plantar warts (warts on the soles of the feet)
Warts that are particularly bothersome to your child

Some warts will go away by themselves. Others can be removed using prescription preparations. However, surgical removal by scraping, cauterizing or freezing is sometimes necessary with multiple warts, those that continue to recur, or deep plantar warts. Although surgery usually has a good success rate, it can be painful and may result in scarring. Laser treatment may help. The earlier the warts are treated, the better the chance of permanent cure, although there is always the possibility that they will recur even after treatment that is initially successful.

If a wart comes back, simply treat it again the way you did the first time or as directed by your dermatologist. Don't wait until it becomes large, painful or starts to spread.

Modified from Caring for Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Bantam 1999