• By Dana Sparks

Home Remedies: What to do with warts

November 18, 2016

close up of a hand with warts

Common warts are small, grainy skin growths that occur most often on your fingers or hands. Rough to the touch, common warts also often feature a pattern of tiny black dots — sometimes called seeds — which are small, clotted blood vessels.

Common warts are caused by a virus and are transmitted by touch. Children and young adults are more likely to develop common warts, as are people who have weakened immune systems. Common warts usually disappear on their own, but many people choose to remove them because they find them bothersome or embarrassing.

Home treatment is often effective in removing common warts. Many people have removed warts with:

  • Peeling medicine (salicylic acid). Nonprescription wart removal products such as salicylic acid are available as a patch or a liquid. For common warts, look for a 17 percent salicylic acid solution or a 15 percent patch. These products require daily use, often for a few weeks. For best results, soak your wart in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes before applying the medication. File away any dead skin with a disposable emery board or a pumice stone between treatments.
  • Freezing. Some liquid nitrogen products are available in nonprescription liquid or spray form (Compound W Freeze Off, Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away, others). The Food and Drug Administration cautions that some wart removers are flammable and shouldn't be used around fire, flame, heat sources (such as curling irons) and lit cigarettes.
  • Duct tape. Cover the wart with silver duct tape for six days. Then soak it in water and gently remove dead tissue with a pumice stone or disposable emery board. Leave the wart exposed for about 12 hours, and then repeat the process until the wart is gone.Study results have been mixed on the effectiveness of duct tape in removing warts, either alone or with other therapies.

Alternative medicine

The following alternative treatments have worked for some people, but no evidence shows they're any better than salicylic acid and cryotherapy:

  • Zinc. This is available as an ointment you apply to the wart or as a pill. The oral form may be particularly effective in people with a zinc deficiency.
  • Silver nitrate. This is available as a solution or ointment you apply to the wart.
  • Smoke. Some people showed benefit from treating their wart in a "smoke box" with smoke from burnt leaves of a type of poplar tree called Populus euphratica.

The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies provides answers you need to take care of common health problems on your own. This reference covers 120 of today’s common health problems in an easy-to-follow, A-to-Z format. Learn what you can do for yourself and when to seek medical attention.

book cover of Home Remedies

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