What's the best way to get rid of warts?

Treating Warts 101

We destroy warts by destroying the virus, or at least most of it, allowing the body's immune system to do the rest. You'll want to treat them promptly, before they spread over your body.

Your first line of offense might be one of these:

  • Salicylic acid. This treatment comes in many forms (including foam, liquid and pad) and should be applied as directed onto the wart. Don't use it on irritated or broken skin. First, clean the area and soak the wart for five minutes, then dry. You may need to apply the medication twice daily. Then, file away any dead skin using a file or pumice stone (dedicated to this purpose alone!). It may take up to three months for your warts to go away using this method.
  • Duct tape. Studies have yielded different results, but there has been noted success with removing warts with duct tape. If you use it, cover the wart with a small piece of duct tape for six days. Then, remove the tape, soak the wart and file it down with a pumice stone or nail file. Leave it uncovered for one night, then re-cover and repeat the process for another six days. If you don't see results in the first two weeks, you likely won't see any at all [source: Miller].
  • Retinoid cream. Retinoid cream can be effective at stopping the growth of warts. It can also cause a variety of side effects and isn't generally as effective as salicylic acid.
  • Cantharidin. This chemical causes blistering beneath the wart, killing the skin and the wart that rests upon it.
  • Freezing (cryotherapy). By freezing the blood vessels of a wart, we can suffocate the wart and get rid of it. This treatment -- using a careful application of liquid nitrogen -- can be performed by a doctor, and over-the-counter at-home freezing kits are also available. Cryotherapy may be a good name, since the treatment can cause blistering and pain. However, freezing warts destroys half of them after the first treatment [source: AOCD].

If these measures aren't successful (or not to your -- or your doctor's -- liking), there are several medical and surgical procedures that can help rid you of stubborn warts. Read on to find out what they are.