My titles are getting worse! Warts are a common problem among many age groups. Young children, teens and adults all can find themselves with one (or many) of them. I’m always happy to treat them in the office, but often people like to try a remedy at home before coming in for an appointment. There are a lot of wart-specific products out there. Some are good, and some are better left on the shelf.
Warts are caused by several different strains of the human papilloma virus. I’m referring today to treating the non-genital variety, that are most typically seen on hands and feet but can pop up on arms, legs and face too. Their rough surface disrupts your normal skin lines. If you spot one, get going on it asap!
Salicylic acid in high doses is the most effective OTC remedy that I’ve seen so far. Look for 40% sal acid. That’s the highest available and much more effective than the 17% variety . (DuoFilm and some Compound W products are 17%). One trick is to look for “corn remover” treatments instead, as these are almost always the more potent dose. Liquid or medicated discs are both fine, but keep them fixed to your skin with something sturdy like athletic tape. The bandaids or covers they provide tend to be wimpy. Before you put the liquid or pad on, soak your wart (if physically possible) for a few minutes and then dry it thoroughly. This soaking will allow the wart accept more of the medication.
I’m not a huge fan of “freezing” treatments you buy at the store. These are NOT the same treatment you receive at the doctor’s office, but a less intense freezing-like treatment. I don’t see many good results with them either. When using sal acid formulations, try to keep the pad or liquid on the skin for as long as you can; ideally 48 hours per application. If your wart is starting to look white and feel soft, that’s a great sign. I tell my patients that the ickier it looks the better it’s working. Now, remember that if the treatment is causing pain, redness or prevents your normal activities, it’s probably time to back off and see a doctor.
One more caveat. There are a lot of non-medicated, home or natural remedies out there for warts. That is another topic that deserves its own post someday. Do you have any home remedies that have worked for you?