Busting myths about warts, papillomas and mollusks

In our dermatology practice we frequently encounter parents who are concerned that their children have papillomas, warts and/or molluscum. We dedicate this post to those parents.
Dear parents, if your child has papillomas or molluscum, first of all keep calm and stay calm. Why? Firstly because they are very frequent problems in the infantile period, since children lack defense mechanisms against infection and secondly because they are totally banal problems that sometimes even return spontaneously and therefore will not affect your child’s quality of life. I will explain it in detail:


It is a local infection by a virus of the Poxvirus family that preferentially affects children, sexually active adults and immunocompromised patients. Contagiousness is widespread and correlates with the use of swimming pools through direct skin-to-skin contact and/or through fomites such as towels and other personal use utensils. The typical lesion has a fleshy consistency, whitish or pinkish “pearl-like” coloration and a characteristic depressed center. In children they usually appear on the face, trunk and extremities, sometimes also affecting the genital region and their number is very variable (between one and hundreds of lesions). It is common to observe eczema around some molluscum lesions, called molluscum dermatitis (as in the image).

As contagious as this virus is benign, the lesions often disappear spontaneously or after manipulation by the child, which is why some colleagues recommend not treating the lesions. However, when they are very numerous, there are various treatments such as curettage (removal of lesions by scraping) or the application of irritant products (molutrex®). Therefore, if your child has molluscum, he/she may attend swimming as long as he/she does not have active lesions or they are in the process of healing.


They are lesions caused by infection of the skin by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and although they can affect any age, they are very frequent in childhood, especially during school age. Its appearance is related to the use of swimming pools and through personal items contaminated with the virus. They may present different morphology depending on the area of the skin they affect.

  • Plantar warts or “plantar papilloma”: they usually affect the support areas of the foot and can be painful. Sometimes they appear as single lesions or grouped in clusters “mosaic wart”. They are recognized because they appear as callus-like areas with black dots on their surface. We must take into account that up to half of the children disappear spontaneously within 6 months.
  • Flat warts: they usually appear mainly on the face or the back of the hands, they are usually flatter lesions and more resistant to treatment.
  • Vulgar warts: they can appear on any area of the skin, being more frequent on the fingers, around the nails or on the knees. Up to 65% of them disappear spontaneously within 2 years.

In the treatment of warts we must first of all be patient and be very constant in the application of the anti-wart treatment. Treatments containing salicylic acid in their composition are usually recommended. They should be applied daily at night and it is highly recommended to file the lesion prior to their application. The use of a personal towel is also recommended and although swimming is not contraindicated, the use of appropriate footwear is recommended.

Therefore, in the face of these two very frequent infections in children, I recommend above all calm and patience because your child will be able to develop defenses against both infections and the day will come when he will not develop any more lesions, it is only a matter of time and letting him grow up.