- Skin & Dermatology>
- Treatment Overview
Wart Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- Warts can usually be treated at home with various methods.
- Try softening the wart by soaking it in warm water for 10–15 minutes. Then use a pumice stone to gently file it down.
- Use OTC wart medication, like salicylic acid, or OTC freezing medication daily.
When you may need a provider
- You have several warts in one area or deep warts on the bottom of your feet (plantar warts).
- The wart has not gone away after 4 weeks of OTC treatments.
- You have genital warts.
- You are immunocompromised.
Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Spreading redness or pus drainage around the wart with fever
The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.
When to see a healthcare provider
If your wart hasn't gone away after trying at-home treatments for about 4 weeks, consider seeing a healthcare provider. You can see your primary care provider or a dermatologist. Also see a provider if the wart is very large or interfering with walking because of pain, or if you have numerous warts. Seeing your healthcare provider soon after you notice the wart can help prevent them from spreading more.
See a provider if you are immunosuppressed (have cancer or are on immunosuppressive medications) because you are at greater risk of the warts spreading.
Warts can sometimes look like skin cancers (squamous cell carcinomas), so if the wart does not improve with treatment, see a provider who can examine it.
Warts are easily diagnosed based on what they look like. Your doctor may take a biopsy of the wart to confirm the diagnosis or to make sure the spot is not a skin cancer.
What to expect from your visit
- Your healthcare provider will examine your wart and ask about any treatments you have already tried.
- Your provider may treat the wart with liquid nitrogen. The procedure typically involves removing some of the thickened skin with a sharp blade, and then using liquid nitrogen spray to freeze the rest of the wart. This will cause a blister and the wart will fall off. You may need to repeat this treatment several times, typically once every 3–5 weeks.
- Your provider may prescribe a medication including podophyllin, imiquimod, salicylic acid (70%), or 5-fluorouracil (a chemotherapy cream).
- If these treatments do not work, your provider may try injecting medication directly into the wart, like Candida antigen, 5-fluorouracil, or bleomycin. Candida antigen activates the immune system to recognize the wart, and 5-fluorouracil and bleomycin are chemotherapies that destroy the wart. You may need 3–5 injections of these medications, about 2–4 weeks apart.
- Your provider may recommend getting the HPV vaccine.
Prescription wart medications
- Salicylic acid 70%/5-Fluorouracil (Wartpeel or wart paste)
- Imiquimod (Zyclara and Aldara)
- 5-Fluorouracil (Efudex)
- Podofilox topical (Condylox)
Types of providers that treat warts
- A primary care provider can treat small warts.
- A dermatologist can evaluate and treat warts anywhere on the body.
- A podiatrist can treat warts on the feet (plantar warts).
- A gynecologist or urologist can treat genital warts (condyloma)
How to treat warts at home
Warts can usually be treated at home, and there are various methods you can try. Home treatments work best for small, isolated warts, but large warts or groups of warts may need to be treated by a healthcare provider. You can try any of the following:
- Soften the wart by soaking it in warm water for 10–15 minutes. Then gently file it down with a pumice stone.
- Putting duct tape on the wart and leaving it on overnight for several weeks may get rid of it, though experts don’t know exactly why.
- OTC wart removers that contain salicylic acid (Compound W, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away) can be applied to the wart daily. The acids come in gel, liquid, or bandage/pad forms. These take about 3–5 weeks to get rid of the wart.
- OTC freezing kits can also get rid of warts, sometimes in 1–2 treatments. Freezing is best for small, thin warts.
- If these treatments don’t work, you can try taking oral zinc sulfate or cimetidine, both available over the counter. You may not notice any changes to the wart until about 8 weeks of using these treatments.
- If the wart is painful or interfering with walking, you can try relieving the pressure from the wart by applying a gel bandage.
- Salicylic acid (Compound W, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away, Mediplast Wart Pads)
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Zinc sulfate
Wellness and prevention
- Warts are caused by the HPV virus and are contagious. Wearing socks or flip-flops in public places, like locker rooms and indoor pools, can help you avoid getting warts.
- If you have genital warts, make sure you use protection during sexual activity.
- The HPV vaccine can help prevent genital warts. Talk to your doctor about getting this vaccination.