Warts: Tips for managing

Warts can often be treated at home. The following explains when you can safely treat warts at home and when you should see a dermatologist.

Self-treatment

You can get some wart remedies without a prescription and treat the warts yourself. This may be enough to get rid of the warts. The only problem with self-treatment is that you might mistake another kind of skin growth for a wart. Some skin cancers look like warts.

You should see a dermatologist when you have:

  • A suspicion that the growth is not a wart.
  • A wart on your face or genitals.
  • Many warts.
  • Warts that hurt, itch, burn, or bleed.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Diabetes. Never try to remove any wart on your foot if you have diabetes. If you cut or burn your skin, it could cause lasting damage to the nerves in your feet.

At-home remedies

You can use the following at home:
  • Salicylic acid: You can treat warts at home by applying salicylic acid. This medicine is available without a prescription. It comes in different forms — a gel, liquid, or plaster (pad). You should apply salicylic acid to the wart every day. Before applying the salicylic acid, be sure to soak the wart in warm water.

    Salicylic acid is rarely painful. If the wart or the skin around the wart starts to feel sore, you should stop treatment for a short time. It can take many weeks of treatment to have good results — even when you do not stop treatment.

  • Other home remedies: Some home remedies are harmless, such as covering warts with duct tape. Changing the tape every few days might peel away layers of the wart. Studies conflict, though, on whether duct tape really gets rid of warts.

    Many people think certain folk remedies and hypnosis get rid of warts. Since warts may go away without treatment, it's hard to know whether a folk remedy worked or the warts just went away.

Ask your dermatologist if you are unsure about the best way to treat a wart.

Prevention

To prevent warts from spreading, dermatologists recommend the following:
  • Do not pick or scratch at warts.
  • Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in public showers, locker rooms, and pool areas.
  • Do not touch someone’s wart.
  • Keep foot warts dry, as moisture tends to allow warts to spread.

Learn more about warts:

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