Many individuals wish for skin as soft and smooth as a baby’s. What about when bumps and other skin conditions appear on your child though?

If your toddler recently developed some growths on their skin, you may be worried. But warts frequently appear on children — and one place they commonly show up is the bottom of toddlers’ feet.

Your mind may be racing with questions like: Why does this happen? How can you know that these growths are warts and not something else? Do they need treatment? What walking is painful for my child?

We know your time is precious, so we’ve gone through the research to answer these and other questions about foot warts in toddlers.

Warts on the feet are generally known as plantar warts. Groups of plantar warts are called mosaic warts.

Plantar warts are typically found on the bottom of the foot on the heel or the underside of the toes. In some cases, they may grow below the surface of the skin and look like a callus.

Symptoms of plantar warts in toddlers include:

  • a small, rough growth (or several growths) on the bottom of the foot
  • hard, thickened skin over a part of the foot where the wart has grown inward
  • black pinpoints (these are small clotted blood vessels and commonly called wart seeds)
  • a bump or growth that disrupts the typical lines and ridges of a foot
  • tenderness or discomfort when walking or standing

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Typically, the virus enters the body through cuts or breaks in the skin.

HPV thrives in warm, moist places like locker room floors and around swimming pools. It can also be transferred through direct contact with individuals who have the virus and between parts of the body.

Plantar warts can often be diagnosed by a doctor just by looking at them visually.

In some cases, a doctor may do a shave biopsy, where they scrape away the top layers and send part of the wart to a lab to be examined.

Many warts will go away on their own and don’t require treatment.

However, if plantar warts are extensive, remain for a long period of time, return after disappearing, or are causing discomfort, your child’s doctor may suggest:

  • Using a salicylic acid solution: This can often be picked up without a prescription from your local drug store and applied to the wart several times a day to gradually dissolve it. You’ll want to follow the exact directions that come with the package.
  • Cryotherapy, or freezing: Typically done in the doctor’s office, a dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen to destroy the skin’s outer layer. This treatment is usually performed several times, with a week or so break in between treatments.
  • Prescription medications: These medications are usually ointments or creams applied directly to the wart.
  • Laser treatments: This treatment is performed by a dermatologist in the office and uses lasers to burn off the blood vessels that feed the wart
  • Curettage: This involves cutting off or surgically removing the wart and is performed by a dermatologist in the doctor’s office.

Salicylic acid solutions and cryotherapy are the most common treatments. However, plantar warts can be resistant to treatment, so it can take time and more than one treatment to remove them. Plantar warts can also return in the future, requiring more treatment.

Warts can spread to different parts of the body and to other people.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your toddler’s warts covered to help them avoid touching any warts, which may spread the virus that causes warts. If they do touch their warts, make sure they wash their hands well.

An individual is at greater risk for warts if they have:

  • direct contact with someone who has warts
  • warts on their body already
  • a weakened immune system

Plantar warts are generally harmless and a common medical condition, especially in children. While most warts don’t hurt, there’s a chance that plantar warts on the bottom of the feet (where they can be frequently bumped) will cause some pain.

If they don’t go away on their own, there are a variety of techniques to make plantar warts smaller or remove them, so that your little one can walk comfortably.

The outlook is generally good for plantar warts. But it may take some time to remove plantar warts, and they may return in the future.

Should I contact my child’s doctor about warts on their feet?

You should reach out to your child’s doctor if the warts are painful or prevent them from engaging in activities. You may also wish to discuss removing them with their doctor if they do not eventually go away on their own.

How long will plantar warts last?

Left untreated, plantar warts can last a few months to several years. Even with treatment, it may take a while before your plantar warts are gone. Several rounds of treatment may be required to treat them, and they may return again in the future.

Can duct tape treat plantar warts?

According to a 2019 expert recommendation, there’s not a lot of research to suggest that duct tape therapy is an effective home remedy for plantar warts. But because it’s considered safe, your child’s doctor probably won’t have a problem with you trying it.

If you’re interested in duct tape therapy, you’ll want to apply duct tape directly on the wart once every 4 to 7 days. After that time, you’ll remove the tape, clean the area with soap and water, and use an emery board to remove the dead skin. People who try this then apply another piece of tape 12 hours later, and they continue the cycle for 4 to 6 weeks.

If your toddler has warts on the bottom of their feet, they’re not alone. There’s also usually no reason to be overly concerned about these warts.

Warts on the bottom of the feet may cause some discomfort and might need to be removed as a result. If the warts are impacting your child’s daily life, a doctor might suggest a variety of treatment options, like salicylic acid drops or freezing the area.