warts do not need to be treated. They generally go
away on their own within months or years. This may be
because, with time, your
immune system is able to destroy the
human papillomavirus that causes warts.
If you decide to treat your warts, both nonprescription and prescription
medicines are available.
For more information, see:
Warts: Should I Treat Warts?
Salicylic acid, which softens the skin layers that
form a wart so that they can be rubbed off. This topical medicine is currently
considered the most desirable wart treatment, based on its effectiveness and
safety, but it may take weeks to months to cure a wart. Other therapies do not
appear to be more effective and tend to cause more pain or other side
effects.1Salicylic acid formulas include Compound W and Occlusal.
less commonly used to treat warts include:
Retinoid cream (Retin-A, Avita), which
is a prescription medicine that you apply to the wart at home. It disrupts the
wart's skin cell growth.
Cantharidin (Cantharone, Cantharone
Plus), which causes the skin under the wart to blister, lifting the wart off
the skin. This medicine is injected into the wart at your doctor's
Bichloracetic acid (BCA), which kills warts by destroying the
proteins in the cells. It is useful for warts on the palms and on the soles of
the feet. BCA also can destroy normal cells, which is why careful application
is needed. A doctor applies BCA once a week.
Immunotherapy triggers your
immune system to destroy the virus causing the wart.
Because some of the substances used for immunotherapy are expensive, dangerous,
or require specialized handling, such treatment is usually considered only
after other methods have failed. Immunotherapy options include
contact sensitizers (such as squaric acid dibutyl
ester or SADBE),
imiquimod (Aldara), and interferon. Interferon is an
experimental treatment and is used only for severe and treatment-resistant
warts. Discuss the benefits and side effects of interferon treatment with your
Bleomycin injection destroys the skin containing the
wart. Because bleomycin is painful during and after the injection, it is used
What To Think About
Salicylic acid treatments are
often effective. They are not very painful, not very expensive, and usually do
not cause scarring. Salicylic acid is a good treatment for children because it
is not very painful. For treatment to be successful, salicylic acid must be
applied on a regular basis, usually for a number of months.
treatment is not always successful. Even after a wart shrinks or disappears,
warts may return or spread to other parts of the body. This is because most
treatments only destroy the wart, but do not kill the virus that causes the
Your treatment options will depend on the type, number, and
location of the wart(s).
Other medicines used for warts include
5-fluorouracil, which is more often used on
genital warts, and cimetidine. Cimetidine can be taken
by mouth (orally) or as an injection.
As with any medicine, talk
to your doctor before using a wart medicine if you are or may be pregnant. Some
wart medicines may cause birth defects.
It is necessary to
distinguish a plantar wart from a
callus before choosing a treatment. Wart treatment
applied to a callus may be painful or create scar tissue.
warts are often hard to treat because they lie beneath the skin. A doctor
may need to
pare the skin covering a wart to help the medicine
penetrate the wart.