Treatment for Warts

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Most warts are quite easily treatable and you can go about seeking or obtaining these treatments quite easily. The most common form of treatment is through the application of topical creams which are just applied to the surface of the wart on a regular basis. Other more aggressive options are available as well, and what route is best for you comes down to personal preference and what your doctor thinks is best.

Non-prescription treatments for warts

There are a number of creams and gels you can get over the counter that can be quite effective in dealing with warts. The active ingredient that these contain is most often salicylic acid, which is found in non-prescription treatments in lower doses than in their prescribed counterparts. In many cases simple non-prescription creams will be enough, and many manufacturers now provide the treatment in more accessible and easy to apply forms like plasters or pads that adhere to the surface of the wart, preventing the infection from being passed on. Typically after the treatment is applied you will need to clear the dead skin the wart leaves behind using either an emery board or a pumice stone, a procedure which is fairly simple and painless.

Other non-prescription treatments include silver nitrate applied through what is called a caustic mechanism. This tends to be a less popular method because the silver nitrate needs to be applied very carefully to avoid staining the skin around the wart. Zinc has also been shown to treat warts, either as an orally ingested product or through applying either zinc oxide or zinc sulphate to the site of a wart.

Prescription wart treatments

Prescription treatments tend to be stronger than their over the counter equivalents, and can be more effective in cases where you have tried non-prescription options with little effect, or have  more serious and persistent case of warts. Imiquimod is a prescription cream that works by encouraging your body’s immune system to work against the wart. Dinitrocholorobenzene (DNCB) is a much stronger substance than salicylic acid that is applied to the wart and is very effective in its treatment. Using DNCB is more risky however because of how potent the chemical is, meaning that a trained professional must apply the substance to preserve the skin around a wart. Salicylic acid in much higher doses can be used as well and is in many cases the simplest, safest, and most effective of prescription treatment options, including the product known as Durasal which is a prescription topical cream.


Some warts or individuals will warrant a more aggressive approach to wart treatment, which is where procedures which have been shown to be very effective in removing warts are used to achieve great results.

  • Cryosurgery is often used to freeze off a wart by exposing it to liquid nitrogen.
  • Laser treatment can be used to treat warts by targeting the skin growth caused by the wart virus HPV.
  • An infrared coagulator is a version of laser treatment that can be quite effective and often less costly
  • Electrodessication can be used, a treatment which involves applying an electrical current to the wart to remove it.
  • Keratolysis will involve removing surface cells by both the actions of a chemical like salicylic acid or formaldehyde alongside the careful removal of the targeted wart by either a blade or pumice stone.
  • A number of agents can be injected into mumps to fuel an immune response against the causative virus, HPV. These include Candida (a type of fungus) or substances called Trichophyton antigens.
  • Duct tape occlusion therapy is an option that remains quite controversial at the moment with regards to its effectiveness.

As you can see there are a wealth of different options when it comes to wart treatment and removal, which means that you are bound to find one that works for you. Many of these are available through a doctor rather than a high street chemist’s, and while an over the counter cream or plaster is often a first point of call for many, it can be a good idea to play it safe and visit your doctor about your warts. The benefit of experience and professional training makes your GP the best person to consult about which treatments will suit you best.

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