Warts are caused by different types of HPV. Millions of people suffer from warts and while they can be difficult to remove, they are not impossible to get rid of. Fortunately, there are dozens of professional treatments and at-home remedies for wart removal. Find out how to get rid of warts right here.
What Are Warts?
Warts are raised bumps on the skin caused by excessive skin cell growth. Skin warts may appear anywhere in the epidermis but are most common on the face and hands. They may appear in one area or on various parts of your body. Some warts may appear smooth and mono-colored while others may be raised and feature dark dots.
Warts are contagious and can be spread from person to person or other areas of the body by contact with broken skin. Regular hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of warts. Make sure to wash your hands regularly and clean any tools you use that may make contact with warts. This includes things like pumice stones, nail files, and loofahs.
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by the presence of the HPV virus also known as the Human papillomavirus. There are more than 100 HPV virus strains with about 10 of those causing warts. The different strains cause different types of warts ranging from genital warts to plantar warts.
While nearly every individual comes into contact with the HPV virus on a regular basis, only some individuals are more prone to developing warts. Scientists haven’t pinpointed precisely what causes some people to develop warts more easily than others. They have identified a weakened immune system and certain occupations as contributing factors to an increased risk for warts.
Common Types of Warts
Common warts typically occur on the hands, but can also appear anywhere on the body. They are characterized by a raised bump with a rough surface. Many times, these warts are discolored with tiny brown dots or a completed brown color.
Plantar warts occur only on the bottoms of the feet. They are typically flat due to the downward pressure of standing and walking. Like common warts, these warts have a rough surface though they tend to be spongier than common warts.
Flat warts tend to occur in patches and feature multiple raised areas of skin. These warts are flatter than other warts and tend to be pink in color. Flat warts occur mainly on the face and hands though they also commonly appear on the shins.
Periungual and Subungual Warts
Periungual warts appear around the edges of fingernails and toenails while subungual warts occur under the nail beds. These warts start out as tiny pinpricks, but typically grow in size and are often found in clusters. People with hangnails and people who frequently bite their nails are more prone to developing these types of warts. If you have these types of warts, you should schedule an appointment at your doctor’s office for removal. These types of warts are extremely difficult to remove and can cause infections under the nail when left untreated.
How to Get Rid of Warts
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective and simplest ways to remove warts, though the process can take several weeks. Salicylic acid is available over-the-counter as a gel, cream, or adhesive pad. You may need a stronger salicylic acid cream so it’s best to talk to a doctor about the proper strength before choosing a product.
Once you have the salicylic acid, start by soaking the wart in warm water for five to ten minutes. This will help to soften the skin and make removal easier. Use a pumice stone or emery board to help remove the top layer of dead skin. Stop filing if you feel any pain. Next, apply the salicylic acid according to your doctor or dermatologist’s instructions. Repeat the process daily until the wart is completely removed.
The process of freezing warts is known as cryotherapy. Typically, a dermatologist uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off the wart by starving its blood supply. The nitrogen may be injected into the wart or simply applied on top and is fairly quick and efficient. One side effect to note is that if the entire wart isn’t frozen, it may come back.
Some anecdotal evidence shows that covering warts on fingers or hands with duct tape may help to remove warts. In terms of home remedies, this one is cheap and easy though it will likely take a few months for complete wart removal. Research shows that it’s best to use the heavy-duty silver duct tape rather than clear varieties.
A study published in the Evidence-based Journal Club compared the efficacy of duct tape to cryotherapy in wart treatment and removal plans. Participants covered the wart with a small piece of duct tape for six-day periods. On the sixth day, participants removed the duct tape, soaked and filed the warts, and then left them uncovered for the night. The tape was then reapplied the following morning for another six-day period. After two months, researchers found that patients who used duct tape had greater success than those using cryotherapy (1).
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, is a popular home remedy for treating skin growths like warts. The liquid is highly acidic and works to slowly burn the dead skin off. The best way to apply it is to dilute the ACV with equal parts of water. Apply the tincture to a cotton ball and tape the cotton ball over the wart. We recommend applying it nightly until the wart is gone. To increase your chances of removing the wart, add a touch of lemon essential oil to the mixture.
Cutting and Laser Treatment
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends cutting and zapping techniques to remove stubborn warts. This process is known as electrodesiccation and curettage. Other techniques involve laser surgery or surgical removal for warts in sensitive areas. A qualified dermatologist with apply general anesthesia to the wart and then use an electric needle or a scalpel to remove the wart. This is the quickest way to remove warts but usually results in localized scarring.
Cantharidin is another professional treatment option for stubborn warts. It should only be applied by qualified skin care professionals since it is a chemical that causes blistering. The chemical is applied directly to the wart and left on for several hours. The chemical works by burning the skin and directly targeting blood vessels to cut off supply to the wart. Then, a dermatologist comes back to remove the wart. This method is effective, but also painful.
Getting Rid of Warts
You don’t have to feel bad if you have warts. Millions of Americans suffer from warts and the wart virus is surprisingly common, even in the cleanest environments. Whether you got warts from a locker room or simply because you’re predisposed to skin diseases, getting rid of them doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Try some of these home treatments for warts. If you don’t have the patience for home remedies or are still struggling to get rid of warts, schedule a doctor’s visit where a professional can offer medical advice and treatment options that suit your needs.