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Warts: 10 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

When Do You Need to See a Doctor About Warts?

For common skin warts, many dermatologists agree that it’s perfectly fine to try over-the-counter wart treatments for a couple of months. If your warts don’t go away during that time, or if they get worse, it may be wise to seek medical attention. Dermatologists have a variety of wart treatment and removal techniques that are stronger and may work faster than commercially available products.

Also, remember that all warts can be “mother” warts that give rise to additional warts in your skin. So, the faster you remove the wart, the less likely it will spread.

What Are Some of the Most Effective At-Home Wart Treatments?

While at-home wart treatments can take weeks or months to work, salicylic acid plasters or solutions that peel away the wart can be very effective when used correctly. Be sure to follow directions carefully. Use a dedicated pumice stone, emery board, or nail file to remove dead skin from the wart the day after each application of wart remover. Don’t use the file for any other purpose; it could spread the virus to another part of your body. And throw it away when the wart is gone.

People also use duct tape or clear nail polish to suffocate the virus, thereby removing the wart, although these treatments probably do not work any better than a placebo. Use duct tape like you would a wart-remover patch. Put a small strip over the wart and leave it in place for about six days. At the end of the sixth day, remove the tape, soak the wart in water and then gently debride it with a pumice stone, emery board, or nail file. Repeat the process as often as it takes to remove the wart.

How Will a Doctor Treat My Warts?

It depends. Two quick options that do not cause too much discomfort are freezing the skin wart with liquid nitrogen or burning it off. In some instances, your dermatologist will use laser to treat especially stubborn warts, although there is no evidence that this form of treatment works any better than other treatment options.

Doctors may also use a chemical called cantharidin on the wart, which causes a blister to form beneath the growth. When the skin on the top of the blister dies, it contains part of the wart and can be removed.

Other options include surgical removal of the wart and the injection or application of certain drugs that strengthen your immune system’s response to the wart.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on May 10, 2012

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