Foot Warts in Children: How to Remove Them

Foot warts are common in children. Fortunately, most of them disappear spontaneously without treatment. For cases that require medical intervention, there are several options available. We'll tell you all about them in this article!
Foot Warts in Children: How to Remove Them
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Foot warts in children are a concern for parents. When their presence is detected, questions immediately arise about why they appear, how they’re transmitted and whether it’s possible to remove them.

Plantar location refers to the location of the wart on the sole of the foot. However, these warts can appear anywhere on the body. The plantar wart is one more form of presentation within the spectrum of these lesions.

We’re talking about a wart when an area of the skin is more hardened than the rest, with an irregular surface and in the form of a lump. The plantar variant is usually located on the heels or on the areas of the sole of the foot that bears the most body weight.

Although it’s not a serious disease, it can affect the quality of life of the family. Concern for the aesthetic aspect and for the child’s reactions to the discovery of the lesion are usually the greatest concern.

We say that it’s not a serious disease because foot warts in children tend to disappear spontaneously, just as they appear. Specialists estimate that up to 70% of those detected disappear within two years without medical intervention.

Cause of foot warts in children

Foot warts in children are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 strains of HPV, but not all of them are linked to foot warts.

Coming into contact with the virus doesn’t mean that you’ll inevitably develop lesions. Each body reacts differently to HPV and contact may occur that doesn’t result in any lesions. Even among close family members, the reaction can be completely opposite.

In children, it’s common to get it from having walked barefoot on a floor containing the virus. The floors of swimming pools and natatoriums, or bathrooms and changing rooms, are ideal breeding grounds.

Even so, this isn’t an easily transmitted virus. It requires certain conditions of warmth and humidity to proliferate, and its attachment to the body is favored when there are small wounds as “entrance doors”.

Once infection is established, the wart develops very slowly. Foot warts in children may take more than a year to become visible because of their size.

Virus through the microscope.
HPV or human papillomavirus is the cause of foot warts in children.

Types of foot warts in children

The shape of the wart is the same in most cases. They’re skin elevations, gray or brown in color, with an irregular rounded surface. But there are variants. Warts can also have the following characteristics:

  • Flat – very small, smooth, and lighter in color
  • Filiform – they’re thin and elongated, as if they were a small finger; they’re usually the same color as the skin.

In addition to their shape, the symptoms of foot warts in children vary. Because of their location, they may hurt when walking. In rare cases they become infected and the boundaries tend to be precise, although other warts may form in the vicinity due to their proximity.

We could say that the symptoms of plantar warts in children, in addition to pain, are:

  • Presence of a bump: The wart protrudes from the surface of the skin.
  • Callosity: The skin in the region of the wart hardens and thickens. This happens because the wart is growing inward as well, although we don’t see it.
  • Blackheads: Tiny blood vessels in the affected skin area clot due to the presence of the wart and HPV. These tiny clots are seen as black dots on the skin.
A foot wart on a foot.
The presence of blackheads can support the diagnosis of foot warts.

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Available treatments

Foot warts in children tend to disappear spontaneously. However, when there are quite a number of plantar warts, or when they cause pain and discomfort, then there are some treatments to choose from.

Among the available therapeutic options we have:

  • Topical medication: Acetylsalicylic acid is primarily used in direct application presentations. This acid progressively destroys the layers of the wart so that they gradually fall off.
  • Cryosurgery: Dermatologists have special cold-surgery techniques. Liquid nitrogen is usually used, which freezes the wart. It isn’t a single application, but requires successive sessions.
  • Laser: Laser is reserved for plantar warts in children who haven’t responded to other treatment. There isn’t complete evidence on the effectiveness of the treatment and it can be painful. The laser should also be applied in successive sessions and not just once.
  • Conventional surgery: Classical surgical techniques still exist, although they’re reserved for very special cases. There are techniques of scraping the wart, excision or electrocoagulation. It’s a method that inevitably leaves a scar.

In conclusion

Foot warts are caused by infection with one of the subtypes of the human papillomavirus. Although they aren’t usually serious and tend to disappear on their own, there’s often concern about their appearance. Fortunately, there are several treatments that accelerate their elimination.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Yeras, Yanet Isabel Cárdenas. “VERRUGA PLANTAR. PRESENTACIÓN DE UN PACIENTE.” Medicentro Electrónica 11.1 (2007).
  • Muñoz-Santos, C., R. Pigem, and M. Alsina. “Nuevos tratamientos en la infección por virus del papiloma humano.” Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas 104.10 (2013): 883-889.
  • Gerlero, P., and Á. Hernández-Martín. “Actualización sobre el tratamiento de las verrugas vulgares en los niños.” Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas 107.7 (2016): 551-558.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.