Warts are unsightly, contagious–and downright painful depending on where they’re located!
And let’s face it, if they don’t hurt literally, they’re sure to hurt emotionally, due to the embarrassment that can come from having ugly warts on your face, neck, hands, or other parts of your body.
There are million-and-one ways out there to get rid of warts, ranging from the insanely expensive, to the entirely painful, to just plain outrageous home-remedies. Ever heard that you can rub your warts with a raw steak, bury it in your backyard and they’ll disappear overnight?
Some remedies, procedures and products work. Some don’t. Many have their drawbacks including wasted time with numerous applications, scarring, and the stress that comes from hoping they’ll work, only to be still left with the wart(s) when it’s all said and done.
What are Warts?
Warts are an infection of the top layer of our skin by the human papillomavirus (also called “HPV”). The epithelial cells become infected with the virus and cause an overgrowth of those cells to occur. This overgrowth often takes months to take place, as the human papillomavirus needs time to mature.
There are over 100 known strains of the virus currently known: 60 of these HPV strains are known to cause warts on the hands and feet; 40 are known to be responsible for genital and anal warts.
HPV infections in the genital and anal region can cause cancer with certain strains. For instance, HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 2/3 of all cervical cancers in women.
Non-genital warts are relatively harmless, other than their appearance. Always keep in mind that a wart isn’t a wart until your doctor confirms it. It’s very easy to mistake early stages of skin cancer for a harmless wart.
Why We Get Warts?
The HPV virus is all over the place and is spread by skin to skin contact with people who have it. Most people will never get warts because their immune system identifies the virus immediately and develops antibodies to deal with them.
Other people may get infected once or twice before developing an immune response to stave off the human papillomavirus. A select few people will spend their entire lives fighting off constant wart outbreaks if they don’t properly treat them.
Immune system to blame for allowing warts to develop
The mechanism of action by which warts spread is very simple. All warts are spread by human contact.
Scientists are still baffled as to why some people are hopelessly prone to them, while others will never experience a single wart ever in their lifetime. Since outbreaks result from a failure on the part of your immune system, it’s believed that a weak or slow-to-respond immune system is most likely to blame for being prone to warts.
A simple cut or abrasion on the skin allows the human papillomavirus to get in when you’re exposed to it. Areas, where people shave, are very prone to warts. People with eczema and other conditions that cause the skin to crack are also quite prone to HPV infections.
How to Safely Remove Warts?
Boosting your immune system naturally by eating a healthful diet is the absolute safest way to remove warts naturally. However, there are so many factors involved with a properly functioning immune system, there’s no guarantee of immediate success. Most of us want warts gone now, right?
The only truly safe, scar-free method to remove warts is through using topical wart treatments applied directly to the skin.
- Topical treatments break down and destroy the wart cells over time using acid-based ingredients.
- Surgical methods such as a laser, cryotherapy, electrocautery, and excision almost always leave scars in their wake. Professional in-office methods work in the same way topical acid-based formulas do, destroying the warty cells. The only difference is the wart is removed immediately as opposed to waiting for weeks or months for relief.
What treatment options are available for warts?
Most of warts will clear up without needing any treatment. Time taken by them to clear up will vary considerably. These tend to clear up faster among small kids. Few warts would take many years for clearing up. Warts less commonly would clear-up without requiring treatment within a few weeks.
Few treatments can cause the skin around wart to get irritated whereas others can lead to blistering and even pain.
The kind of treatment given depends on where exactly your wart is located as well as how many in the count are there.
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✔ Salicylic Acid – Maximum paints, creams, gels, as well as medicated band-aids available in the market or at pharmacy store can be used without prescription as they contain salicylic acid. As per studies, usually, salicylic acid treatment helps in getting rid of warts within 3 months time. It is vital to protect the skin prior to applying treatment. It is because salicylic acid destroys the healthy skin. Corn plaster or petroleum jelly can also be used for protecting the skin around the wart. Prior to applying medication, soak wart in water for nearly 5 minutes. Now rub-off dead tissue surface of wart every week using an emery board or pumice stone. Ensure you don’t share this with anyone else. In maximum cases, treatment will be applied daily for nearly 3 months. In case skin turns sore, treatment should be stopped. Medications containing salicylic acid must not be used on face. Patients having a poor circulation of blood shouldn’t make use of medications containing salicylic acid without consulting with their doctor.
✔ Duct Tape – Few individuals make use of duct tape so as to get rid of those warts. These shouldn’t be used on face for warts. Duct tape usually is placed over wart as well as left as it is for nearly 6 days and finally removed. Then wart is soaked in warm water for nearly 5 minutes post which dead tissue is rubbed-off gently using emery board or the pumice stone. It is vital that pumice stone or emery board shouldn’t be used on any other person. Then wart is left uncovered for fortnight and new duct tape piece is placed on wart the next day.
✔ Cryotherapy – Extremely cold liquid mostly nitrogen will be sprayed onto water, freezing warts as well as destroying the cells. Blisters may develop that eventually turn into scab as well as fall-off weeks later or so. This is the treatment that is done by healthcare professionals hence can require local anaesthesia. In case wart is large, many treatments can be required over a number of weeks. Cryotherapy is having lower skin irritation risk as compared to other medications that contain salicylic acid or make use of duct tape. Pharmaceutical stores sell propane spray/ dimethyl-ether spray that can be used by patients themselves- this shouldn’t be used on the face.
✔ Surgery – It is not commonly used for warts. Warts treated using surgery can often come back. Surgery is having higher scarring risk. However, at times doctor can recommend surgery that would be carried out under general or local anaesthetics. You may be recommended surgery if other treatment options aren’t working. In case wart of yours is much big, it would be cut out. Small warts can be scrapped-off via curette.
✔ Laser treatment – Precise laser beam will be used for destroying wart. Usually, laser treatment is recommended for those warts that are tough to treat.
✔ Electrocautery – Electric current will be used for burning-off warts.
✔ Photodynamic Therapy – Wart cells will absorb a chemical that will be activated using light- generally laser light is used for destroying wart cells.
✔ Chemical Treatments – These generally are available on prescription. These include podophyllin, glutaraldehyde, and formaldehyde. These must be applied just on a wart and not on any other surrounding area.
✔ Cantharidin – It is a substance that is extracted from blister beetle. Doctors would apply this substance only to warts. This generally is an extract mixed with some other chemicals and applied on the skin as well as covered with a bandage. This is painless though resulting blisters would be uncomfortable. These blisters lift-off wart from the skin so that doctors can easily remove dead part of the wart.
✔ Antigen Shots – Immune system of the body doesn’t realize that wart is there. If you however stimulate immune system locally, few activated immune cells in that area would recognize abnormality- wart- and take proper care of it. Benefit of using these antigen shots is that they leave no scarring as immune system of the body would get rid of these warts. Sometimes doctors can treat pregnant ladies or they can decide waiting till pregnancy of the patient is done.
We’ll discuss the more invasive surgical treatments later on, but there are a few topical at-home treatments you can try first to get rid of your warts.
Common Home Remedies for Warts
Note: The following are common home treatments for warts. Like other treatments, they don’t have any effectiveness at destroying the human papillomavirus itself.
- Duct Tape Treatment:
This is one of the most popular methods of safe at-home wart removal. Cut a piece of duct tape to the same size as a wart and stick it on. Leave the tape for a week, take it off and wash the area before smoothing the wart down with the fine side of an emery board. Reapply a new piece of tape and keep repeating the process for four to six weeks, until the wart disappears.
Duct tape is the most common type used for treating warts at home. However, any industrial strength tape is likely to have the same effect. Most important is that once applied to the skin, the tape is tacky enough not to fall off under most circumstances including light handwashing. This method works very well, but unfortunately certain studies indicate that a wart is more than twice as likely to reappear after removal using this treatment (source).
Apple cider vinegar is often thought most effective, but any vinegar with an acetylsalicylic acid content of 5% or higher might work just fine. “Might” is the operative word here because this wart removal method has proven very ineffective over the years. You have to be hypervigilant at applying the vinegar constantly to get any results at all.
The process is simple though: rub some vinegar on the wart several times a day. The more you can apply, the better the chances it will work. If effective, the wart will disintegrate in a few weeks or longer.
- Other Home Topical Treatments for Warts:
There are so many home topical treatments to use, many offering little or mixed results. Just as you’d do with the vinegar, you can try applying any of the following to your wart(s) several times a day, every day and see if they help to remove the wart tissue.
Always rub the wart lightly with an emery board or pumice stone before applying topical home wart remedies for maximum results.
(Remember that none of these treatments will do anything to kill the human papillomavirus).
- Crush two or three vitamin C tablets into a small dish and add enough water to make a paste. Rub the paste on your wart and continue to do so for up to 6 weeks.
- Crush fresh garlic and apply it to the wart multiple times daily until it goes away. Powdered garlic will not work for this.
- Mix two teaspoons of castor oil with one teaspoon of baking soda and apply it multiple times daily until it falls off.
There are many others such as breaking a green bean pod open and rubbing the juice inside on the wart, or applying radish, potato, or banana peel juice to the wart to make it disappear. These and other folk-lore methods (like the one about rubbing a fresh steak on a wart then burying it in your backyard) are not likely to work for wart removal purposes.
Medical Treatments for Warts
Use medical wart removal procedures only as a last resort. All will cause minor and even quite significant scarring of the skin.
If the at-home remedies don’t work, try a specially-formulated and satisfaction guaranteed product like Wartrol, designed to dissolve the wart in just a few short weeks.
- Electrocautery: Electrocautery is shock therapy for warts. An electrical impulse is shot into your skin by a handheld device at the dermatologist’s office. After a few minutes of charging the wart with electricity, the wart is then cut off.
- Laser Treatment: Laser wart removal treatments actually burn the wart cells. The technician aims the laser directly at the cells burning the wart down until it’s gone.
- Cryotherapy: Many OTC wart removal products use cryotherapy to get rid of warts too. If you visit the doctor for this, they’ll use liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart which will destroy the live wart cells. At home products are less powerful, using propane and dimethyl-ether to freeze the wart. At home cryotherapy treatments often don’t take, or require multiple applications to work.
- Excising: Very few dermatologists use this method. A topical anaesthetic is applied to the area with the wart and then it’s cut off.
Best OTC Wart Removal Product on the Market: Wartrol
Wartrol is a powerful, natural plant acid-based product that works to dissolve warts within a matter of a few weeks.
Unlike the home remedies discussed above, which offer mixed results, Wartrol will definitely get rid of any common or plantar warts you have. You brush it on the wart, much like you would brush nail polish onto your nails.
Note: It’s not marketed for genital warts, so we can’t recommend it for that purpose. However, keep in mind that treatments for genital warts contain the same ingredients as common and plantar wart formulas do. Do with that information what you will.
What Wartrol is not:
- An instant, overnight wart curative.
- It does not strengthen the immune system to combat HPV.
- It is not available at your local Walmart, Walgreens, or Costco.
Wartrol takes a few weeks to begin working. It’s designed by Market Health and has FDA approval for use as a wart removal product. It’s has been featured on Fox, CNN News, CBS, MSN.com, and USA Today.
There are two main ingredients in this product that work to dissolve the wart:
- 17% Salicylic Acid: This is one of the most popular ingredients for at-home wart removal products. It’s a beta-hydroxy acid that gently burns away the infected layers of skin which give warts their shape. 17% has been found to be the safest amount of this ingredient to include in topical wart removal products, to prevent burning and irritation.
- Ascorbic Acid: Though milder than salicylic acid; ascorbic acid also helps to break down the warty cells while also helping to disinfect the infected area.
The formula also contains a proprietary mix of ethyl alcohol and concentrated menthol, disinfectants used to prevent the spread of HPV while the formula’s dissolving the infected wart.
Summary: Your Options for Effective Wart Removal
- Natural home-based remedies: Some of which like the duct tape method and vinegar that have shown promise, but take anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks to work, IF they work at all.
- Professional in-office medical procedures: Electrocautery, Laser, Cryotherapy, and Excision treatments definitely do work. They’re invasive, painful, expensive, and leave scars on your skin.
- Topical at-home treatments: Safe products like Wartrol that are FDA approved and battle-tested by people who like you, didn’t want to use folk remedies, nor invasive medical treatments to get rid of their wart problem.