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Warts (cont.)

Wart Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a wart is made by its location and appearance. If uncertain as to the type of skin problem, the doctor may elect to perform any of several different tests.

  • Punch biopsy: This is a more invasive way of obtaining a sample of the questionable wart. The doctor will numb the area around the wart and take a deeper coring sample. This skin and questionable wart will be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation that is not possible in a doctor's office. See information about moles and mole removal.

Home Remedies for Warts

Home care is effective in making the wart or warts go away. No matter what technique you use, warts will disappear 60%-70% of the time. Techniques may be done with or without medication.

The ultimate goal of the medical therapies (not the surgical treatments) is to get your body to recognize the wart as something foreign and to destroy it, much like the body destroys a cold virus.

  • Salicylic acid therapy
    • Salicylic acid is available by many different trade names at the drugstore. It comes both as a liquid to paint on the wart or as a plaster to be cut out and placed on the wart tissue.
    • The area with the wart should be soaked in warm water for five to 10 minutes. The wart should then be pared down with a razor. A simple plastic razor works fine for this, then throw it away. Do not shave far enough to make the wart bleed.
    • Apply the salicylic acid preparation to the wart tissue. Do not apply it to other skin because of salicylic acid's potential to injure normal tissue.
    • Follow directions on the package for how long to apply the acid.
  • Cryotherapy: Over-the-counter products to freeze the area of the wart using dimethyl ether and propane are available.
    • Follow package instructions exactly. Do not get the product on surrounding intact skin.

Other alternative therapies mentioned by some articles include heat treatments and even hypnosis.

Wart Treatment

In addition to recommending the home care treatments, your doctor may choose to treat the wart more aggressively.

  • Liquid nitrogen: Liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy is used to deep freeze the wart tissue. With liquid nitrogen applied to the wart, the water in the cells expands, thus exploding the infected tissue. The exploded cells can no longer hide the human papillomavirus from the body's immune system. The immune system then works to destroy the virus particles.
  • Laser therapy: Lasers are simply very intense light sources. This light has an enormous amount of energy that heats the tissue enough that it vaporizes.
  • Other therapies mentioned in the literature include imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara), cantharidin, and several other medications and methods that are usually suggested or administered by a physician.
  • Surgical removal: Surgery may be necessary when other treatment methods fail. This would involve numbing the region around the wart and cutting out the wart.
  • Destruction by scraping and burning the lesion; the wart area is numbed with a local anesthetic and then the doctor heats the tissue with an electric needle. The dead tissue is then scraped away with a curette ( a type of surgical tool).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/18/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Warts, Nongenital »

Warts are benign proliferations of skin and mucosa caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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