Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Common Warts -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Warts?

Some doctors say that the best treatment for warts is no treatment at all. Most people develop an immune response that causes warts to go away by themselves. One-fifth of all warts disappear within six months, and two-thirds are gone within two years. However, if your wart doesn't disappear, or if it's unsightly or uncomfortable, you can try self-treatment or seek help from your doctor. If you have diabetes or a weak immune system, it is recommended to avoid self-treatment and instead follow up with your doctor. 

If you decide to treat your own wart, your first-choice remedy should be an over-the-counter medication in liquid, gel, pad, or ointment form. Most of these contain salicylic acid, which softens abnormal skin cells and dissolves them. Some examples are Compound W, Duofilm, and Occlusal HP.

Understanding Common Warts

Find out more about common warts:

Basics

Symptoms

Treatment

Prevention

First, soak the wart in water for five minutes to help the medication penetrate the skin. Then gently rub off dead skin cells with a washcloth or pumice stone. These compounds require daily treatment, often for at least several weeks. You should not reuse the same washcloth or pumice stone or you may keep reinfecting yourself with the wart virus. After applying the over-the-counter salicylic acid treatment, the area should be covered with a piece of duct tape. This will help to both adhere and penetrate the salicylic acid into the skin.

If over-the-counter treatment fails, your doctor can remove a wart by:

  • Freezing it with liquid nitrogen.
  • Burning it off with an electric needle or a laser.
  • Applying acids to help destroy the wart.
  • Injecting a drug called bleomycin into the wart (which kills the virus), used for severe cases.
  • Injecting candida antigen to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight off the wart.
  • Prescribing a topical medication called imiquimod (Aldara), which improves your body's fighting capabilities. This is mainly helpful for genital warts.

Getting rid of warts takes persistence. It is in the rare situation that a wart is gone with a single treatment. There is no treatment that your doctor can do that has been proven to be more effective than the over-the-counter treatment with salicylic acid and duct tape. Oftentimes, your doctor will do a treatment in the office while you continue to do at-home treatments.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 17, 2014

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 
woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz