Skin warts are common, and treatments are plentiful. If home remedies for warts don't work, you can move on to over-the-counter wart removers. If your warts still don't disappear, you can turn to treatment by a doctor, who can freeze or cut off the wart.
Here are some home remedies and treatments for common warts, such as plantar warts on the soles of the feet or palmer warts on the hands. For the most part, these remedies do not work very often.
People try countless home remedies for warts. They rub warts with garlic, or apply a paste made of baking powder and castor oil. They crush vitamin C tablets into a paste to cover the wart. They even soak warts in pineapple juice. Prolonged application of duct tape also has its proponents, although scientific data does not support its use.
Over-the-Counter Wart Removers
Generally, most dermatologists say it’s safe to try drug store wart removers – as long as you’ve confirmed that it’s really a wart. Sometimes calluses or corns are mistaken for warts. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
Many over-the-counter wart treatments contain salicylic acid. The success rate is about 50% over six weeks or so. Other treatments work by "freezing" the wart. After two or three treatments, each lasting about 10 days, the success rate is about 40% to 50%.
Over-the-counter treatments aren't recommended for common warts on the face or lips, and should not be used on genital warts, which are caused by a different strain of virus. See your doctor about treatments for those warts.
Warts Treatments From a Doctor or Dermatologist
If you go to a doctor, you can choose from many wart treatments. Some focus on destroying the wart and others on boosting your immune system so you clear the wart. Among the options:
Liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart off
Prescription strength salicylic acid, to be applied at home; to get rid of the wart
Laser or surgery to cut the wart off
Topical immune system stimulant such squaric acid, applied to the skin for several weeks, to help fight the virus
Immune therapy for warts can take six to 12 weeks to work. Removing warts with a laser or surgery is the fastest treatment, but is also the most expensive and invasive.
Stephen Webster, MD, dermatologist at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, La Crosse, Wis.; and clinical professor of dermatology, University of Minnesota, Minn.
Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of pediatric and adolescent dermatology, St. Luke's--Roosevelt Hospital, and assistant professor of clinical dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, N.Y.
American Academy of Dermatology: "What are warts?"
Linda Stein Gold, MD, director of clinical research, department of dermatology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit.
Silverberg, N. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2000, vol 42: pp 803-808.
Focht D. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, October 2002, vol 156: pp 971-974.