Much of what you've likely heard about common warts isn’t actually true. They’re not dangerous, and the source of the ugly infestation isn’t frogs or toads. Even the most fastidiously clean person can acquire a wart or two or three, so don’t label yourself as gross because your body has produced them.
Warts are nothing more than noncancerous growths that typically appear on the hands, elbows and knees. They begin when the human papillomavirus (HPV) enters the first layer of skin – often because of a cut or scratch. Kids tend to be more susceptible than adults (an immature immune system may be the culprit) but they can strike any age. Unfortunately, they’re stubborn and often difficult to get rid of.
Rest assured, however, there are plenty of time-tested remedies for eliminating the unwanted bumps and blemishes. Though some of the removal methods are unusual, others can be found inside your local drug store. Some options may require a visit to your family doctor or specialist. You’ve just got to be as determined as warts themselves. And you need to be informed.
Click ahead to learn the five remedies for common warts – they may be all you need to relieve yourself of the pesky problem.
The first course of action once you've discovered a wart is to make a trip to the corner drugstore. After all, you’re not the first person to develop them. Odds are, you’ll have several medications to choose from. These remedies usually come in two forms: a solution you apply to the wart or a patch to wear over the affected area, which contains the necessary medication. Typically these over-the-counter remedies contain salicylic acid, which gradually breaks down the infected skin so it can be peeled off.
Be patient – it can take several weeks of use before the wart is gone. Soaking the wart in warm water prior to treatment can help speed the process along. You may be tempted to douse the wart, but be advised that the medicine will work on whatever you apply it to. You don’t want to irritate the surrounding healthy skin in the process.
Think you can rid yourself of warts with household items and a little ingenuity? You may just be right. Some people swear by duct tape for wart removal. Cover the entire wart with a piece of tape, leave it on for a week and then soak the affected area in warm water. Take a pumice stone or emery board and scrub the wart thoroughly. This should not be a painful process – if it hurts then you’re doing it too hard. Once you've scoured the area, wrap it again in duct tape and repeat the process in another week.
If neither the over-the-counter medications nor the duct tape home remedy have produced results after two or three weeks, it might be time to move on to the next option.
The salicylic acid content of over-the-counter wart removal medicines is 17 percent. Your doctor, however, can prescribe a higher concentration. If that doesn’t work, your physician may want to introduce you to cryotherapy. Cryotherapy involves the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the infected skin cells. After a few freezing sessions, that stubborn wart or warts will likely fall off and, at long last, you’ll be left with your normal skin. The downside to cryotherapy is that it can be mildly uncomfortable.
Cryotherapy isn’t the only option in your doctor’s wart removal arsenal. There’s another treatment which uses the opposite approach.
When warts show resistance to salicylic acid, bandages, duct tape and even liquid nitrogen, it’s time to try a “bottom-up” approach. Rather than dry out or freeze the infected skin itself, your doctor may focus on the skin below the wart. The chemical Cantharidin causes healthy skin to blister. By soaking the wart in Cantharidin, your doctor can cause blistering of the healthy skin beneath the wart. When that healthy skin dies it destroys the foundation that the wart is connected to. The dead, blistered skin and the wart will come off together.
In rare cases, warts may need alternative treatments including surgery. Click ahead to learn more.
For the most stubborn of warts, your doctor may turn to the use of electrosurgery. As the name implies, electrosurgery involves burning off the warts. Your physician accomplishes this by inserting an electric needle into the infected skin. Lasers can also be used to kill the wart. The cancer-killing antibiotic Bleomycin is sometimes injected into warts to hasten their demise. Imiquimod – an immunotherapy gel or cream – can be used to trigger the body’s natural rejection mechanisms to destroy warts.
Warts are literally just one of those bumps in life – not serious but definitely bothersome – but with persistence and proper treatment you can restore your healthy skin.