Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted virus. HPV causes genital warts, or warty skin lesions. They are not contagious from person to person but they can spread easily through sexual contact with someone who has them. These types of warts usually appear on the hands, feet, genitals and underarms, but they may also affect other parts of the body such as the face and mouth.
The most common symptoms include itching, redness, swelling and pain. There may be no signs at all until the warts have grown into large areas.
Sometimes there is no sign at all. Most people get rid of warts naturally without any treatment, but some need medical attention if they do not respond to standard treatments such as over-the-counter medications or topical creams.
There are several natural remedies available for treating warts. Some of these are listed below:
Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil is one of the best natural cures for warts. It kills the wart cells completely and prevents new ones from forming.
It works well against both types of warts. For those with small numbers of wart cells, it can kill them off within two weeks, while larger masses require three months to die down.
For best results, apply a few drops of the oil on a cotton bud and apply it directly onto the wart. For larger warts, soak a clean cloth in tea tree oil and hold it on top of the wart for a few minutes.
You can do this two or three times a day.
Lemon Juice – The citric acid in lemon juice dries out the warts, killing them off slowly over time. For best results, you should use the juice from one or two lemons and apply it topically to the wart.
You can do this twice a day.
Unlike tea tree oil, the citric acid in lemon juice is too harsh and may cause skin irritation. This is why it’s essential to use a small amount for treatment, and avoid sensitive areas such as the genitals, eyes and mouth.
It can also bleach clothing and bedding, so you should take care when applying it.
Castor Oil – The essential oil in castor oil has potent anti-viral properties that can kill off HPV. By massaging a small amount of the oil into warts daily, you can get rid of them without any side effects.
For best results, massage a few drops into the skin two or three times a day.
This method is one of the least reliable since you’re relying on your body to absorb a large amount of oil. It can take up to two months for it to fight off the virus, so you may need to keep at it for this long without seeing any signs of progress.
Garlic – Garlic contains allicin, a compound that reduces the effects of viruses within the body. By eating two or three cloves of garlic a day, you can reduce the effects of HPV enough to beat the infection.
It may take time, but it can get rid of warts in the long-term.
You can either eat raw garlic, cook with garlic or consume a garlic supplement for best results. You should start to see results after a week or two, but it could take up to four weeks before you’re wart-free.
Because some of these natural treatments take time to work, it’s important to remain patient. In the meantime, refrain from scratching and avoid picking at the warts since this may cause scarring or a more serious infection.
There’s also a slight chance that you could spread the virus to other parts of your body if you’re not careful.
If you’re not ready for a do-it-yourself approach to wart removal, there are several other options available. You can either visit your general practitioner for medical treatment or visit a beauty salon for professional treatment.
There are two main ways of getting rid of warts through medical treatments: cryotherapy (freezing them off) and salicylic acid (softening the tissue so they can be cut out). Your general practitioner can give you a prescription or recommend an over-the-counter remedy that can help to get rid of warts.
The most common types of over-the-counter treatment are:
Salicylic Acid – As its name suggests, this method involves softening the wart so that it can be cut out or frozen off more easily. The salicylic acid will slowly eat away at the layers of skin until it reaches the wart.
Freezing Off – This involves using a special chemical to freeze the wart. It’s not an instant fix since it can take several treatments before the wart is completely gone, but it’s one of the most effective methods.
Cutting Out – Doctors will use scissors, scalpels or tweezers to remove warts. It’s quite painful and recovery time is around four weeks since the wound needs time to heal.
You can also visit a beauty salon for one of the more professional medical treatments:
Cryotherapy – A beauty salon or spa can freeze off warts with a special liquid nitrogen spray. It only takes about a minute for the liquid nitrogen to freeze and harden the wart, after which it falls off after a few days.
Surgical Removal – The beauty salon technician will cut out the wart using surgical scissors and tweezers. This is a more effective method than over-the-counter treatments, but it will leave a scar.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the warts, it’s important to keep your skin protected in order to prevent further outbreaks. There are several different types of protection that you can use, including:
Socks – This is the most basic form of protection for your feet. Choose thick socks made of cotton or wool that don’t give your feet a lot of room to maneuver.
Mouth Guards – If you’ve been getting warts on your hands and fingers, wearing a mouth guard at night can help to prevent you from picking at your skin. Not only will it stop you from touching the warts, but it will also protect other parts of your hands.
Gloves – Wearing gloves at night gives your hands the protection they need from the warts. Latex, cotton or vinyl gloves are all suitable.
There are also other types of over-the-counter wart treatments that you can try if the first one doesn’t work:
Compound W – This product contains salicylic acid and is available in a roll-on, liquid or gel form.
Fixodent – This contains a chemical called bismuth subgallate, which stops wart tissue from growing and causes the wart to fall off after several days.
Strips – These adhesive pads stick to your skin to physically rip the wart off your hands or feet after a few days. They can be fairly painful to remove, so you may want to use them at night and remove them first thing in the morning.
Freezing Methods – You can also choose a product that freezes the wart, such as a spray or an ice cube. These methods don’t destroy the wart tissue however, and you’ll need to have the warts treated by a professional afterwards.
You can also visit your doctor to get the warts removed, but keep in mind that there’s always a risk of scarring if you go down this route. Your doctor can also prescribe more powerful chemicals for more serious cases of hand, foot and mouth disease.
The best way to deal with warts is to try to prevent the virus from spreading in the first place. The following tips will help you to stop the virus breeding and remove harmful spores from your surroundings:
Keep your hands away from your face.
Don’t bite your nails, suck your fingers or touch your mouth while touching a wart.
Wash your hands after touching a wart.
Keep potential fluid reservoirs, such as plants and water features away from toddlers and little children.
Try not to walk barefoot in public areas where many people gather, such as swimming pools, locker rooms and shower rooms.
Try to avoid picking up foreign objects, such as darts and coins, off the floor. If you do pick something up, make sure you clean the wart immediately.
Keep babies’ nappies and diapers changed regularly, as they are often a breeding ground for the virus.
Use a bleach solution to sanitize any contaminated areas, such as Common Areas and public telephones.
If you’re caring for someone with the disease, make sure that you wear protective clothing and keep yourself away from your face and hands.
Allow ventilation into the room and open windows whenever possible.
The virus can live for up to a day on an object that the infected person has touched, such as a door handle. Make sure you disinfect these contaminated areas frequently.
If you work in a job where you are in contact with the public or come into contact with foreign objects, such as a waiter or waitress, it’s best to wear gloves and other protective clothing.
Sources & references used in this article:
Seasonal variability in the contents and composition of essential oil in various Thuja species occurring in Czechoslovakia by I Buben, M Karmazin, J Trojankova… – … Symposium on Medicinal …, 1990 – actahort.org
Topical vitamin A treatment of recalcitrant common warts by A Gaston, RF Garry – Virology journal, 2012 – virologyj.biomedcentral.com
Use of OTC essential oils to clear plantar warts by MA Forbes, MM Schmid – The Nurse Practitioner, 2006 – journals.lww.com