News | Published September 23, 2013

Warts are prevalent but usually resolve on their own

An interesting study by the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands examined the prevalence of warts and how many of them went away on their own in the span of 15 months. We still treat warts, especially in painful areas, but if they don’t bother the child, I am a proponent of leaving them alone. We are always happy to see your child and assess the need for treatment (or not) with warts.

Researchers examined the natural course of cutaneous warts and treatment decisions among primary school children and found a high prevalence of warts, half of which resolved within one year despite any treatment.

In the study of 1,099 Dutch children aged 4 to 12 years, researchers found 33 percent of children had cutaneous warts at baseline. One-half of the children found to have warts were free of warts one year later, despite any treatment.

Resolution rates were higher among younger children and children with non-Caucasian skin type. During the 15-month follow-up, 38 percent of children and their parents decided to treat the warts, a decision that was more likely when warts were bigger and bothersome. Eighteen percent used over-the counter treatment only, 15 percent used a family physician-provided treatment only and 5 percent used both.

The authors expect these findings to be useful in the process of shared decision making with parents and children. They conclude parents and family physicians should weigh the benign natural course, the adverse effects of treatments and the costs on the one hand, and the effectiveness of treatments and the risk of spreading untreated warts on the other.


Natural Course of Cutaneous Warts Among Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study By Sjoerd C. Bruggink, MD, et al
Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands