A growth on your baby’s skin that does not go away could be a wart. Warts are bumpy growths that usually are harmless but can be uncomfortable in some areas of the body. In rare cases, babies can develop warts if they are born to a mother who has genital warts.
Warts occur after exposure to the human papilloma virus, also called HPV. Common warts are rough and rounded on the top and may appear in groups, while flat warts have a smoother surface and can be smaller in size. Flat warts commonly occur on the face, while common warts often appear on the elbows, hand and fingers. When warts appear on the bottom of the feet, they are called plantar feet. Wart color can range from light pink to dark brown. If your child has a common wart, you may notice that it contains several black spots. The black spots, commonly referred to as “seeds,” actually are tiny blood vessels.
Your baby may be more likely to develop warts if he has broken skin or hangnails. Your baby can develop a wart after touching a wart on another child or adult. The HPV virus can live on objects and spread if your baby touches an item that has come in contact with a wart. Sharing towels or washcloths with a person who has a wart is one way the virus can spread. Your child may develop a plantar wart if he stands or walks on a floor that has been contaminated with the virus. Because warts can spread from the hands to the face through touching or nail biting, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends checking your child’s hands for warts if you notice a wart on his face.
Other strains of the HPV virus can cause warts in the genital area on adults. These types of warts are spread through sexual contact. Although it is rare, a baby can develop a wart or growth if exposed to the virus during childbirth. The condition, called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, affects approximately 20,000 people in the United States, according to the RRP Foundation. Exposure to the virus can cause warts and growths in the throat, trachea, vocal cords, breathing passages or lungs. If your baby has this condition, you might notice that he has trouble breathing, does not cry very loudly, coughs often or has difficulty swallowing. Doctors treat growths caused by recurrent respiratory papillomatosis with surgery.
Warts don’t always need to be treated, as many go away without treatment in a matter of months, or in some cases, years. Over-the-counter wart medication can be helpful in removing warts if used for several weeks or months. Covering the wart with duct tape also might eventually remove a wart. Although these methods can be helpful in removing warts in older children and adults, your doctor may not recommend them for an infant. Talk to your doctor before attempting any in-home treatment for your baby’s wart. Doctors use several methods to remove stubborn warts, including freezing them with a special liquid, burning them with an electrical current or removing them with a laser.