You don’t have to treat them; studies find that about 20 percent disappear without treatment within six months, and 65 percent vanish within two years. Of course, most people don’t want to wait that long, so they often turn to some form of treatment, usually topical wart solutions that “burn” the wart away. These are fine, but our combination of essential oils and a common household product work just as well or better.
Because warts are linked so closely to the immune system (if it’s weakened in any way, the virus can gain the upper hand), review our tips for strengthening the immune system.
Do This Now
Although nothing works quickly to remove a wart (except surgery), these remedies should eventually help and should be your first steps.
- Soak the wart in warm water for 15 minutes before using any remedy.
- Now apply 1 drop tea tree, lemon, clove, or thyme essential oil diluted with 1 drop carrier oil (like almond oil). Reapply every 24 hours.
- Cut a piece of duct tape slightly bigger than the wart and cover the wart with it. Change the tape every day and reapply the essential oil before you put the tape over it. Make sure the piece of duct tape is large enough so it sticks to the non-oily skin.
Why It Works
Soaking the wart softens it so other remedies can work better. The essential oils contain compounds that fight viruses. As for the duct tape, it’s surprisingly and amazingly effective. A study in 61 people with warts found that using duct tape for two months worked better than freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen every day for two to three weeks, with the wart disappearing in 85 percent of those who used duct tape (usually within a month) compared to 60 percent of those who used the liquid nitrogen. The duct tape might cause minor skin irritation, but trust us, that’s nothing compared to the pain of liquid nitrogen therapy. In fact, the skin irritation may be why the duct tape treatment works-it triggers an immune-system reaction that finally rids the body of the wart.
Herbs and Supplements
Garlic. Although the evidence is only anecdotal, garlic, which has strong antiviral properties, is a commonly used folk remedy. Don’t use on your face or genitals, however, because the juice can irritate or even burn sensitive skin. In fact, you should rub olive or massage oil on the skin around the wart to protect it from the garlic oil. There are several ways to use garlic on warts:
- Place a thin slice over the wart and cover with a bandage or duct tape for several hours (no longer than 24 hours).
- Rub a cut half on the wart, then cover.
- Apply a liquid extract of garlic.
Salicylic acid. Over-the-counter preparations like Compound W that contain salicylic acid literally dissolve the wart. Make sure you soak the wart for 10 to 15 minutes before every application to soften it so the medicine can work. Every couple of days, carefully pare away the peeling tissue by rubbing it with a pumice stone or emery board. While it may take weeks or even months to totally remove the wart, it won’t leave a scar and is very safe. If an over-the-counter approach doesn’t work, see your doctor for prescription-strength solutions.
Tagamet (cimetidine). This medication, used for peptic ulcers, can turbocharge immune system cells that fight the wart virus. Anecdotal reports, as well as several studies in children and adults, find it can be quite effective. Take the recommended over-the-counter dose.
Hypnosis. The mind has incredible powers to rid the body of warts. One study comparing hypnosis, placebo, and salicylic acid treatments found that people who underwent hypnosis lost more warts than those who used salicylic acid or a placebo. It appears that hypnosis and the closely related therapy of guided imagery help spur the immune system to better fight off the virus.
Cryotherapy. In this procedure, the physician “burns off” the wart by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. However, several sessions may be required, and it is fairly painful (which is why it usually isn’t used on children). An over-the-counter product, Wartner, also freezes warts, which are supposed to fall off about 10 days after treatment. There may still be pain or stinging.
Burning. The doctor burns the wart off using a laser or electrical cauterizing instrument. It is painful and may leave a scar.
Surgery. If your wart doesn’t respond to other treatments, the doctor can scrape it away surgically. However, this often leaves scars and may spread the virus.
Immunotherapy. The wart is injected several times with candida or mumps proteins (common agents everyone has been exposed to) to stimulate a local immune response to help eliminate the wart. One study found injecting the proteins into just one wart helped eliminate others.