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How to Get Rid of Warts

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  • Warts, which are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV), are contagious but benign. Common remedies for warts are salicylic acid, duct tape and cantharidin
  • You may also get rid of warts by using natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, garlic, banana peel, milkweed, celandine, pineapple juice and aloe vera. Essential oils like tea tree, oregano, castor and sandalwood oils may be used as well
  • Warts can easily be transmitted through skin contact, but covering your warts with waterproof plaster when going to swimming pools and communal showers, and not sharing your personal items with other people may help inhibit the spread of the virus. You may avoid spreading warts to other parts of your body by not touching or scratching them, keeping your feet dry and using newly washed socks every day

Warts are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV), which are contagious and may reappear on the same body part after the wart has been removed. You may acquire this virus by using the same things that another person with warts has used, if you share a common area with people with warts, or if you have a weak immune system.1

Having warts, especially in areas of your body that are noticeable, can be distressing and embarrassing. Although they generally are benign and do not cause pain, some warts may feel itchy or bleed if irritated.2 You should not worry, though, because there are various ways to remove warts without undergoing surgical treatments or complex procedures. Read this article to learn the common methods and home remedies that you can try.

What Are the Effective Home Remedies for Warts?

Warts may go away on their own, especially in children.3 But if you are interested in getting rid of them fast, there are numerous ways on how to remove warts, which may depend on your condition or on your health care provider’s advice. Here are inexpensive and easy to follow home remedies for warts:

Salicylic acid — Patches, ointments and pads with salicylic acid may help remove layers of warts, especially if used daily. It’s best to immerse warts in warm water before applying salicylic acid, and then dead skin can be filed away using a disposable emery board or pumice stone.4 But although this remedy may be more effective than conventional treatments like cryotherapy (more on this later),5 it may not mitigate the virus, resulting in recurring warts.6

Duct tape — A 2003 study found that applying small pieces of duct tape on warts is a more effective method of getting rid of warts than cryotherapy.7 If you have warts on your finger, wrap it with duct tape and leave it on for about six days. After you’ve had it off 12 hours, replace with a new piece of duct tape and repeat the process up to two months, or until the warts are gone.8

Cantharidin — A topical vesicant or blistering agent,9 cantharidin may safely and effectively help remove warts.10 A meta-analysis of 12 wart studies found that it may also help get rid of warts on the feet when combined with salicylic acid and podophyllotoxin,11 a plant-derived product commonly used to help remove venereal warts.12

Apple cider vinegar Thanks to its antibacterial properties,13 you may get rid of warts by applying apple cider vinegar using a cotton ball. Cover warts with a bandage and leave it on overnight. It may take at least one to two weeks to get rid of them completely.14

Garlic Garlic’s antiviral properties may help fight off the virus and boost your immune system. Simply apply raw garlic on your warts or add garlic to your meals.15

Banana peel — Place the inner side of the banana peel on the wart and use tape or a bandage to attach. Leave it for a few days and replace with a new banana peel until the wart disappears. This treatment may take several days to up to three weeks.16

Milkweed and celandine— The sap of these plants may be applied directly on a wart to help alleviate its growth. Remember not to cover warts with a bandage and make sure that you do not have allergies to these plants before proceeding with this treatment option.17

Pineapple juice — You can either apply pineapple juice on a wart or put a slice of pineapple directly on a wart and cover it with a bandage. Leave it on overnight, remove the bandage and then rinse the area after. Repeat the procedure until the wart comes off.18

Aloe veraDab a cotton ball with aloe vera gel and place it over a wart. Attach the cotton ball using medical tape and leave it on for a few days. Remember to reapply aloe vera gel from time to time.19

Take note that these home remedies may only be applicable for common warts. If you are wondering how to get rid of warts on your face or on the genitals, seek a physician’s advice to avoid complications.

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4 Beneficial Essential Oils for Warts

Essential oils contain various chemicals that may help suppress the virus that causes warts.20 Some of the useful essential oils for warts are:

Tea tree oil A 2008 study found that tea tree oil for warts may be effective when topically applied. Tea tree oil was applied once daily on the warts of the participant’s right middle finger. Another study found that tea tree oil may help get rid of warts in 10 days without side effects.21 Simply apply the oil on your warts and repeat the procedure daily for about 12 days or until the warts disappear.22

Oregano oil This versatile oil contains carvacrol, which exhibits antiviral effects that may help get rid of warts.23 Make sure to dilute this oil in a safe carrier oil before applying it on your warts.

Castor oil Castor oil is traditionally used in India to help mitigate warts. It is mixed with crushed garlic, warmed and then set aside for a few days. Once strained, apply the mixture on your warts.24

Sandalwood oilA 2018 study found that topical application of sandalwood oil twice daily may help get rid of warts. The study found no side effects for this oil.25

Other potentially useful essential oils for wart removal are lemon, lavender, geranium, neem, manuka and cypress oils.26 If you use any of these oils, remember to cover the warts with a bandage to reduce its oxygen exposure, which will kill the virus quicker.27

Also, make sure that you have no allergies to the foods or oils before proceeding with these remedies. It is advisable to seek your health care provider’s advice to determine the proper medication for your condition, as not all home or natural remedies may be effective for you.

Is Cryotherapy Effective in Removing Warts?

Cryotherapy is a conventional way that is said to help get rid of warts fast.28 Liquid nitrogen is applied on a wart to freeze it, which may destroy your skin’s outer layer cells.29 A British Journal of Dermatology study found that the more frequently you undergo this treatment, the faster warts may be removed.30

However, cryotherapy is a more expensive method than using salicylic acid31 because it may require you to take repeat treatments.32 To add, cryotherapy may leave a blister on your skin and may cause pain. People with diabetic foot problems, peripheral arterial disease and Raynaud’s disease should avoid cryotherapy because it may lead to complications like poor wound healing and nerve damage.33

5 Ways on How to Help Inhibit the Spread of Warts

HPV can easily be transmitted from one person to another through direct or indirect contact.34 Although warts are benign and harmless, some may cause discomfort and pain. Here are ways to help avoid the spread of warts to other parts of your body and to other people:35,36

Avoid sharing your clothes and personal items with other people.

Use clean and newly washed socks every day.

Keep your feet dry.

Always wear footwear and use a waterproof plaster to cover your warts when using swimming pools, communal showers and other public places.

Do not touch or scratch your warts.

Reduce Your Risk of Getting Warts by Boosting Your Immune Health

Having a weak immune system, such as if you have cancer, AIDS, have a low white blood count37 or had an organ transplant, increases your risk of having warts, as your body may not be able to eliminate the virus.38 Here are a few tips on how you can bolster your immune health, so as to reduce your risk of acquiring them:

  • Eat foods rich in vitamins E, D and C.39
  • Get enough rest and sleep.40
  • Do moderate-intensity exercises regularly.41

To learn more ways on boosting your immune health, read the article “Top Tips to Boost Your Immunity.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Warts

Q: Where do warts come from?

A: Warts are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV).

Q: Are warts contagious?

A: Yes. HPV may be acquired through direct skin contact and by using personal items of a person with warts. Staying in common areas with HPV-infected people, such as swimming pools, communal showers and classrooms, may also put you at risk of warts.43

Q: What does a wart look like?

A: Common warts, which appear on your hands or feet, look like bumps that may grow from the size of a pinhead to a pea. Warts are scaly and rough because the outer layer of the skin thickens and hardens.

Q: What is the fastest way to get rid of warts?

A: A British Journal of Dermatology study found that undergoing cryotherapy treatments every two weeks may be a faster way to help remove warts, compared to weekly treatments or procedures done every three weeks.44 However, more studies may need to be done about this.

Please note that cryotherapy is not only expensive, but may also cause pain. Certain groups of people are also ill-advised to undergo this procedure, such as diabetics and those with peripheral arterial disease and Raynaud’s disease. The other home remedies mentioned above remove warts slower, but more safely.

Q: How do you treat warts at home?

A: Home remedies for warts include salicylic acid, duct tape, apple cider vinegar, garlic, banana peel, milkweed, celandine and pineapple juice. These are usually applied directly on the warts and left overnight or for long periods. They must also be done repeatedly until the warts are gone.

Q: How do you stop warts from spreading?

A: Applying essential oils on warts may help inhibit the spread of HPV. Keeping your skin dry, avoiding scratching or touching warts and treating damaged skin may also help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.45

Q: Will warts go away on their own if left untreated?

A: Yes, even if left untreated, warts may go away on their own, but it may take months or years.46

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