Warts aren't the end of the world, but they can be an annoyance. Luckily, a number of home remedies exist, as well as minor medical care options, to take care of warts. In addition, there are a number of things you can do to prevent getting warts (or spreading them). The following are some popular options:
Make sure it's a wart. First and foremost, before you try any type of treatment, know whether your skin eruption is a wart or another condition. Warts (except the small, smooth flat wart) commonly have a broken surface filled with tiny red dots. (Some people mistakenly call these dots seeds, when in reality they are the blood vessels that are supplying the wart.)
Moles, on the other hand, are usually smooth, regularly shaped bumps that are not flesh-colored (as flat warts can be). A rough and tough patch that has the lines of the skin running through it may be a corn or a callus.
There is also a chance that the lesion could be skin cancer. You may be able to recognize skin cancer by its irregular borders and colors. When in doubt, see your doctor. In addition, if you have diabetes, circulation problems, or impaired immunity, do not try any home therapy for wart removal; see your doctor.
Wait them out. Warts can take a long time to go away, but most will, if you wait long enough. Unfortunately, they also have a tendency to recur. Doctors aren't sure why, but some speculate that the "mother" wart sheds "babies" into the surrounding skin. And some people seem to have a susceptibility to warts. Adults get warts less frequently than children do, but warts in adults take longer to go away.
Talk to your doctor. Doctors can zap warts with a laser, burn or freeze them, or give you topical medications that might do the trick. You can pay a pretty penny for these medical treatments, but if your warts are painful or multiplying rapidly, you may want to go the medical route.
Don't touch. The wart virus can spread from you to others, and you can also keep reinfecting yourself. The virus develops into a wart by first finding its way into a scratch in the skin's surface -- a cut or a hangnail or other wound, for instance. Even the everyday task of shaving can spread the flat warts on a man's face. Inadvertently cutting a wart as you trim your cuticles can cause an infection.
So keep the virus's travels to a minimum by not touching your warts at all, if possible. If you do come in contact with the lesions, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. Children should also be told that picking or chewing their warts can cause them to spread.
Stick to it. Doctors have known for years that adhesive tape is an effective treatment for warts that's cheap and doesn't leave scars. In fact, a 2002 study found that tape therapy eliminated warts about 85 percent of the time, compared to a standard medical treatment using liquid nitrogen, which was only successful on 60 percent of warts. Researchers in this study used duct tape, but plain old adhesive tape seems to work, too.
Try this: Wrap the wart completely with four layers of tape. Be sure the wrap is snug, but not too tight. Leave the tape on for six and a half days. Then remove the tape for half a day. You may need to repeat the procedure for about three to four
weeks before the wart disappears. You can try the procedure on a plantar wart, but be sure to use strips of tape that are long enough to properly secure the adhesive.
Take precautions with over-the-counter (OTC) preparations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved wart-removal medications made with 60 percent salicylic acid, but most common OTC remedies contain 17 percent. While the stronger formulas may work well for adults (except for those who have sensitive skin), they are not recommended for children. Salicylic acid works because it's an irritant, so no matter which strength of solution you use, try to keep it from irritating the surrounding skin. If you're using a liquid medication, do this by smearing a ring of petroleum jelly around the wart before using the medication. If you're applying a medicated wart pad or patch, cut it to the exact size and shape of the wart. Apply OTC medications before bed and leave the area uncovered.
Consider using the power of suggestion. Some physicians use this technique on children, who are still highly impressionable. The doctor tells the child that if the doctor rubs chalk on the child's wart, it will disappear. There are variations on this, including coloring the wart with a crayon or drawing a picture of a child's hand with the wart crossed out and then throwing the picture in the garbage (see "Can You Wish Warts Away?").
Don't go barefoot. Warts leak virus particles by the millions, so going shoeless puts you at risk for acquiring a plantar, or foot, wart. The best protection: footwear. Locker rooms, pools, public or shared showers, even the carpets in hotel rooms harbor a host of viruses -- not just wart viruses. You can catch any of a number of infections, from scabies to herpes simplex. Never go barefoot; at the very least, wear a pair of flip-flops, or thongs.
Keep dry. Warts tend to flourish more readily in an environment that's damp, especially in the case of plantar warts. That's why people who walk or exercise extensively may be more prone to foot warts, says the American Academy of Dermatology. So change your socks any time your feet get sweaty, and use a medicated foot powder to help keep them dry.
Cover your cuts and scrapes. The wart virus loves finding a good scratch so it can make its way under your skin. By keeping your cuts and scrapes covered, you'll be helping keep out the wart virus.
From duct tape to the power of suggestion, there are quite a few home remedies that are proven to work well against warts. However, there are a number of simple home remedies -- some using kitchen items and others just common sense -- that can help you treat warts if they do occur. In the next section, we'll discuss some home remedy options.
For more information about skin issues, visit the following:
- Herbs can help fight off warts in two ways -- they can bolster your immune system to prevent warts and they can help diminish a wart once it develops. Find out more in Herbal Remedies for Warts.
- For natural ways to treat other wart-like foot problems, check out our Home Remedies for Calluses and Corns section.
- Dealing with dry skin? Visit Home Remedies for Dry Skin.
- To correct oil skin naturally, try the ideas in the Home Remedies for Oily Skin article.
- To learn ways to prevent psoriasis outbreaks and treat ones when they do occur, read Home Remedies for Psoriasis.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.