The #1 Spot for Answers From Top Dermatologists

Effective Wart Treatment Options

March 27, 2024
Piction Health

Warts are a common skin condition caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear on any part of the body, but are most commonly found on the hands, feet, and face. While warts are generally harmless, they can be unsightly and embarrassing, leading many individuals to seek treatment options. There are a variety of effective wart treatment options available, ranging from over-the-counter remedies to professional procedures and natural remedies.

Understanding Warts

Before exploring wart treatment options, it is important to understand what warts are and what causes them.

Warts are a common skin condition that affects many people around the world. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can appear on any part of the body. While warts are usually harmless, they can be unsightly and embarrassing for some people.

What are Warts?

Warts are small, benign growths on the skin caused by the HPV virus. They can appear as raised bumps or as flat, flesh-colored spots. Warts are usually painless, but can be itchy or uncomfortable if located in areas of friction, such as the feet or hands.

Warts are a viral infection that can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or surface. They can also be spread indirectly through sharing personal items such as towels or razors. Warts can take several months to develop after exposure to the virus, which is why it can be difficult to determine how or when someone became infected.

Causes of Warts

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common virus that infects the skin and mucous membranes. There are over 100 different types of HPV, and some types are more likely to cause warts than others. Warts are more common in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant.

Children and adolescents are also more susceptible to warts due to their still-developing immune systems. Warts can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, as well as through contact with contaminated surfaces such as public showers or swimming pools.

Types of Warts

There are several types of warts, each with their own unique characteristics and treatment options. Common warts typically appear on the hands and fingers and are rough and raised. Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet and can be painful due to their location. Flat warts are small and flat and are often found in clusters. Genital warts are found in the genital and anal area and are considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

While most warts are harmless and will go away on their own, some people may choose to have them removed for cosmetic or medical reasons. Treatments for warts include over-the-counter medications, cryotherapy (freezing), and surgical removal.

Over-the-Counter Wart Treatments

Many individuals choose to treat their warts with over-the-counter remedies. While some warts may go away on their own, others may require treatment to prevent them from spreading or becoming more painful.

If you are considering an over-the-counter wart treatment, it is important to understand the different options available and their potential side effects.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a common treatment for warts, available in a variety of forms such as gels, pads, and liquids. Salicylic acid works by gradually dissolving the wart tissue, and should be applied daily for several weeks or until the wart disappears. It is important to be careful when using salicylic acid, as it can irritate the surrounding skin.

It is also important to note that salicylic acid should not be used on genital warts, as it can cause irritation and damage to the sensitive skin in that area.

Cryotherapy Kits

Cryotherapy kits are available over-the-counter and work by freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, causing the growth to peel off. While cryotherapy can be effective, it can also be painful and may require multiple treatments.

It is important to follow the instructions carefully when using a cryotherapy kit, as incorrect usage can result in skin damage or scarring.

Wart Patches and Plasters

Wart patches and plasters contain salicylic acid and are a convenient treatment option for warts on the hands and feet. They work by applying medication to the wart for an extended period of time, often several days.

While wart patches and plasters can be effective, they may not work for everyone and can also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.

It is important to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about using an over-the-counter wart treatment, or if your wart does not go away after several weeks of treatment.

In addition to over-the-counter treatments, there are also prescription medications and medical procedures that can be used to treat warts. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best treatment option for your individual needs.

Professional Wart Removal Procedures

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek professional treatments for persistent warts. Several options are available through dermatologists and other healthcare providers.

While warts are generally harmless, they can be unsightly and cause discomfort. If you have tried at-home remedies without success, it may be time to consider professional wart removal procedures.


Cryosurgery is a process in which liquid nitrogen is applied to the wart, causing it to freeze and eventually fall off. This procedure can be painful and may require multiple treatments. However, it is a highly effective method for removing warts and is often recommended for larger or more stubborn warts.

During the procedure, the dermatologist or healthcare provider will apply liquid nitrogen to the wart using a cotton swab or spray. The area will then be covered with a bandage or dressing. Over the next few days, a blister will form around the wart, and the dead tissue will eventually fall off.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is often used for large or difficult-to-remove warts. A laser is used to vaporize the wart tissue, and the surrounding area is treated with a topical medication to prevent infection. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, and patients may experience some discomfort during and after the procedure.

While laser therapy is a highly effective method for removing warts, it can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Additionally, it may require multiple treatments to completely remove the wart.

Electrosurgery and Curettage

Electrosurgery and curettage involve removing the wart tissue with a special tool, and using an electrical charge to destroy any remaining virus. This procedure is often performed under local anesthesia and can be effective for large or stubborn warts.

During the procedure, the dermatologist or healthcare provider will use a curette to scrape away the wart tissue. An electrical charge is then applied to the area to kill any remaining virus. The area is then covered with a bandage or dressing.

While electrosurgery and curettage can be effective, they can also be painful and may leave a scar. Additionally, the procedure may need to be repeated if the wart returns.

It is important to discuss all of your options with your dermatologist or healthcare provider before deciding on a professional wart removal procedure. They can help you determine which method is best for your individual case and provide you with information on the risks and benefits of each procedure.

Natural and Home Remedies for Wart Removal

For individuals looking for natural or home remedies for wart removal, several options are available.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for wart removal. It is applied to the wart for several days, often by soaking a cotton ball in the vinegar and securing it to the wart with a bandage. The acid in the vinegar helps to dissolve the wart tissue.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil with antiviral properties. It is applied directly to the wart several times a day, and can be effective in dissolving the wart tissue.

Duct Tape Occlusion Therapy

Duct tape occlusion therapy involves covering the wart with duct tape for several days, then removing the tape and rubbing the wart with an emery board. This process is repeated for several weeks, and can be effective in causing the wart to gradually disappear.

Overall, there are many effective wart treatment options available. Whether seeking over-the-counter remedies, professional procedures, or natural remedies, individuals can find a treatment option that works best for their needs and preferences. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider or dermatologist if warts persist or if there are any concerns about treatment options.