Wart Treatment: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Warts

By Adam Simpson
Adam Simpson
Adam Simpson
September 8, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Most people are familiar with warts. Indeed, they’re an incredibly common condition, and it’s highly likely that you, or someone you know, may suffer from warts at one point or another during your lives.

What are Warts?

Despite the common nature of warts, relatively few people are actually aware of what they are. Quite simply, a wart is a growth on the skin, caused by the HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. There are well over a hundred types of this virus, and it can affect different parts of the body. Most warts are harmless, although there are one or two forms of HPV that can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated.

Are Warts Contagious?

Warts are contagious. However, some people seem to have more of a predisposition to catching warts than others. It’s advisable to avoid touching warts if you suffer from them, as scratching or picking could not only spread the condition to others, but could also result in passing the infection on to other parts of your body.

How are Warts Treated?

There are a variety of treatments available for warts, and it’s worth bearing in mind that most warts will eventually clear up on their own, though this can sometimes take up to 18 months.

  • Over the counter treatments. There are many over-the-counter non-prescription preparations available to help treat warts; in the form of gels, special plasters and drops. Many of these contain Salicylic acid, which helps to dissolve the keratin (a form of protein) which makes up the wart and the toughened skin surrounding it. 

  • Freezing. It is also possible to buy aerosol treatments. These aerosol sprays quite literally freeze the wart, which causes it to eventually disappear. Generally non-prescription products such as these are not as effective as those available from your local doctor.

  • Surgical removal. The most effective way of getting rid of warts, particularly those that are unsightly or in a prominent place, is at the local doctor’s clinic. It is a very minor procedure and is unlikely to take very long. It is also relatively painless. To find out more about what to expect from this procedure, talk to your local doctor.

  • Electrical tape. There are also a variety of ‘home-remedies’; which, as a general rule, do not tend to have much effect when treating the wart. The most popular of these is to apply electrical or duct tape to the wart, and leave it in place for an extended period of time. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this approach works, and as a result, it’s not recommended.

What is the Most Effective Course of Action to Take?

The most effective approach is to leave the wart, as it will eventually disappear of its own accord. However, this is sometimes not possible, particularly if the wart is sizeable or in a noticeable place. If you feel unable to live with the wart, then the best course of action is to visit your doctor, or an urgent care clinic like Doctors Express, who will be able to remove it for you, safely and effectively. 

Adam Simpson