Warts are one of the most common skin conditions that affect people of all ages. These persistent skin growths can be difficult to get rid of and can spread when left untreated.
Warts are caused by HPV, the human papilloma virus. The virus infects the skin, causing a rapid growth in cells and resulting in a thick, rough growth. There’s no cure for the virus, so warts may go away and then reappear.
Warts can occur anywhere on the skin. They’re most likely however on the fingers, hands, soles of the feet, face, or legs. Certain types of HPV can cause warts on the genital area as well.
Our board-certified dermatologist is weighing in on the best ways to treat warts. Here’s 7 wart treatment options:
1. Prevent warts from starting.
One of the best ways to treat warts is to prevent them before they start or at least before they spread. Warts occur most easily in moist environments so keeping skin dry helps. Protecting the soles of your feet with shower shoes when using a public shower is another helpful method.
Even if you already have a wart, prevention is key because warts can spread. Keeping a wart covered is another way to ensure it won’t spread to nearby skin.
Treating warts early also helps prevent them from spreading. Warts are most easily treated when they are small, before they have grown or spread.
2. Over-the-counter treatment for warts.
Many patients begin wart treatment by using over-the-counter medications (OTC). This method is best for small warts.
This treatment involves applying an OTC strength salicylic acid on the wart several times a day. The wart then needs to be covered. Many brands of OTC wart treatments are sold with bandages to do so.
This method uses a medication that is not as strong as prescription medication. It may therefore take much longer than in-office treatments and not be as effective for more persistent or larger warts.
For persistent warts, OTC wart medications may be helpful when used in conjunction with in-office treatments. They can be applied in between visits to your dermatologists to more quickly remove the wart.
3. Cryotherapy for warts.
The most common in-office treatment for warts is cryotherapy. Your dermatologist will first “pair down” the wart, removing the outer layer of dead skin around it. He or she will then use a hand-held device to spray a substance that “freezes” the wart. The wart will harden over the next several days and begin to go away.
Cryotherapy often requires several treatments. There is some discomfort during the procedure although it is brief and most patients tolerate it well.
4. Topical in-office medications for warts.
Some prescription, topical medications can be applied in office to treat warts. Your dermatologist will use a very small brush to apply the medication.
Several treatments may be needed to utilize this method. It may also be used in combination with other methods.
5. Injectable medications for warts.
Certain medications may be injected into a wart to treat it. This method is usually done on persistent warts that have been treated by other methods unsuccessfully.
This can be an affective method for getting rid of warts. However, the treated area may be sensitive to the touch for several days to a week following treatment.
6. Excisions for warts.
Warts can be surgically removed through an excision. A dermatologist will cut around the wart and apply surgical stitches to close the wound.
This method can be useful for warts in specific locations. Most patients prefer to try other methods as excision results in a scar. Additionally, the wound must be properly cared for following this treatment. Finally, walking can be difficult during the healing stage if this method is used for warts on the soles of the feet.
7. Allow the wart to go away on its own.
Some warts will go away on their own. It may take many months or much longer but allowing this to happen is one way to treat warts.
However, while waiting for the wart to go away naturally, it may spread. And once the wart has spread, it is more difficult to treat. Be sure to cover it and keep skin dry if using this method.