Skin warts are common, and there are many treatments. If home remedies for warts don't work, you can try 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 palmar warts on the hands. For the most part, these remedies do not work very often.
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People try countless home remedies for warts, but most do not help. 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 fans, although evidence does not support its use.
Over-the-Counter Wart Removers
Most dermatologists say it’s safe to try drugstore 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 6 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. 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 your body clears the wart. Among the options:
Liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart off
Prescription-strength salicylic acid applied at home to get rid of the wart
Laser or surgery to cut the wart off
Topical immune system stimulants such as squaric acid, which is applied to the skin for several weeks to help fight the virus that causes the wart
Immune therapy for warts can take 6 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, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, La Crosse, Wis.; clinical professor of dermatology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of pediatric and adolescent dermatology, St. Luke's--Roosevelt Hospital; assistant professor of clinical dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.
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.
Focht, D. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, October 2002.