Warts are skin growths caused by different strains of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. The virus enters the body, usually through a small cut or scratch, and then causes the top layer of skin to grow faster than normal. Types include common warts, plantar warts, flat warts, periungual warts and filiform warts. So, how to get rid of warts? Here are some simple home remedies and medical options which can help get rid of warts, at least relieve the symptoms.
How to Get Rid of Warts
1. Home Remedies
Keep in mind that most warts might not need treatment at all. Though unsightly, they usually go away in a matter of months or years as your immune system fights off the HPV. Never, ever cut or burn off a wart. Use these home remedies, and if they don’t work, consult a doctor.
- Duct Tape. Though it might sound strange, a small piece of duct tape over the wart has been shown to help remove it. To do this, keep duct tape on the wart for six days, and then remove it on the seventh day and use a file or pumice stone to scrape away dead skin. Let it rest for a day, then repeat. This treatment should be used for one to two months for best results.
- Salicylic Acid. This is a very popular treatment that usually yields great results. You can purchase salicylic acid over the counter. To use: soak the affected skin in water to allow the acid to penetrate more easily. Apply it to the wart only, not to surrounding skin. After application, cover the spot with a bandage. This is best done at night, when you aren’t moving around and the acid will stay in place longer. After repeated application, the warts will be softened. And then, rub the dead tissue once a week until the wart is gone.
- Cryotherapy. This treatment consists of two chemicals sprayed into a foam applicator and applied to the warts. This is the same type of treatment your doctor might do in his or her office, but it can be done at home without a prescription required. Kids under 4 years old, pregnant and breast-feeding woman should be kept away from this treatment.
- Wart Pads. These over-the-counter wart treatments are infused with medications that can help reduce or remove the wart over time. There are different pads available for the different locations on the body where the warts might have developed.
- Proper Footwear. Those who have painful plantar warts might find that wearing footwear that fits well can help reduce or even eliminate the warts. Proper footwear used in combination with the other listed treatments can have a more pronounced effect, and can also help you avoid more warts in the future.
2. Medical Choices
There are many medications for warts, available by prescription or over-the-counter. The following have been proven effective:
- Retinoid Cream. Sold under the names Retin-A and Avita, these medications stop the wart from growing.
- Bichloracetic Acid (BCA). Very useful for warts on the hands and feet, this medication destroys the proteins in the cells that create the wart. However, it can also destroy healthy cells, which is why only a doctor can apply it.
- Cantharidin. Sold under the names Cantharone and Cantharone Plus, this medication is injected under the skin. It then blisters the area, lifting the wart away from the skin.
3. Surgical Treatments
Sometimes very painful warts will need to be removed, but the conventional treatments might not work well. In that case, there are surgical options for removing warts.
- Electrosurgery. This is a surgical procedure that involves burning the wart with an electrical current. The skin is numbed before the procedure.
- Laser surgery. An intense beam of light is aimed toward the wart, which is then burned away.
- Curettage. A very sharp knife or spoon-shaped tool is used to cut the wart from the skin. This can be used in conjunction with electrosurgery.
- Electric Needle. In this treatment, the needle is placed against the skin and used to burn off the wart.
- Pulse Dye Laser. This laser works by enabling the red blood cells to absorb the light, cutting off the blood supply and killing the wart. It works 95 percent of the time.
Though surgery might be a good option for some, keep in mind that it can sometimes cause scarring and pain. Treatments might also be costly, and you might have to endure several of them for good results.