Warts are harmless, non-cancerous lumps that grow on the skin. They are usually painless, but they can be embarrassing, itchy, unsightly or bothersome. If a wart is causing you discomfort or affecting your self-confidence, it is important to have it removed. From laser surgery to duct tape, there are plenty of ways to get rid of a wart and we will discuss them all below. 

What Is a Wart?

A wart is a small, hard growth or lump on the surface of your skin. They are rough and gritty in texture. Typically, warts are completely painless, though they can cause pain if they grow in an uncomfortable place (such as an eyelid or the soles of your feet), and they can be embarrassing. They are extremely contagious, so it is likely that you will develop a wart if you touch someone else’s. Similarly, if you touch your own wart and then touch another area of your body, the wart is likely to spread there. The sharing of towels or washcloths can also lead to the development of warts, as warts are more likely to grow on wet skin.

What Causes Warts?

A wart appears when your skin has been infected by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over one hundred different variants of HPV, and only a few cause warts. Nevertheless, the virus is extremely contagious. It passes between people via casual skin contact, or via the sharing of objects such as towels. When you come into contact with the virus, it can penetrate the outer layer of your skin, often via an opening in the skin, such as a scratch. The virus then encourages your skin cells to multiply rapidly, leading to the emergence of a rigid, grainy bump on the surface of your skin.

Who Gets Warts?

Warts are extremely common, and anyone can get them. However, children and teenagers are more likely to develop warts than adults, because their immune systems are less likely to have built up immunity to HPV. Similarly, those with weakened immune systems, such as sufferers of autoimmune diseases, organ transplant patients, and the elderly, are more likely to develop warts. Biting your fingernails also makes you more prone to warts, as this creates cuts around the nails, which makes it possible for HPV to penetrate the skin. 

How Do I Get Rid of Warts?

Warts usually disappear on their own, but this can take months or years to occur. If you want to get rid of your wart sooner than this, there are plenty of ways to do so, from creative home remedies to surgical excision by a doctor. 

Home remedies

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One can try and remove warts from the comfort of their own home by trying some of the remedies we’re listing below.

Apple cider vinegar

All you need to perform this home remedy is a bottle of apple cider vinegar, cotton balls or swabs, and a small bandage. First, dilute some apple cider vinegar with water (roughly speaking, the solution should be two-thirds vinegar and one-third water). Then, soak a swab of cotton in the solution and apply it to the wart. Use a bandage to tape the swab to your wart, so that it remains sealed next to the lump overnight. Replace the cotton ball with a new, freshly soaked one every night until the wart drops off (this should happen after approximately one to two weeks). After one to two days, the skin on the surface of the wart may turn black, which signals that its skin cells are dying. 

Duct tape

When duct tape is used to treat warts, a small piece of tape is placed on top of the lump so that it adheres to the surface of the wart. You should then continue with your normal daily activities. After four days have passed, tear off the tape. This will cause a layer of the wart’s skin cells to tear off with it. Then, rub the wart with sandpaper or a pumice stone and leave it exposed to the air for twelve hours. Once this time has passed, re-apply a new piece of tape. Repeat this every four days until the wart is gone (it may take several weeks for it to disappear). You must not perform this home remedy on warts that are near your genitals, under your armpits, or inside your nose or mouth. 

Wart freeze

Pharmacies often sell ‘Wart Freeze Sprays’ or freezing kits that can be used at home. These products come with an applicator that you can use to spray a solution onto your wart. It is important to follow the instructions carefully and take note of any side effects. 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that can be purchased from a pharmacy (it is sometimes referred to under the brand name, Compound W). It works by exfoliating a wart’s skin cells until the lump disappears. To remove a wart at home, soak the wart in warm water for five minutes. Then, apply salicylic acid to the wart. Repeat this process every day until the wart is gone. This should occur after several weeks have passed. To accelerate this process, use a pumice stone to remove dead skin cells from the wart before you soak it. 

Medical treatments

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If home remedies prove not to be effective for you, you can always turn to medical treatments

Laser treatments  

A laser treatment destroys a wart by directing a beam of light at the growth. This heats up and burns away the tiny blood vessels inside the wart. Without a blood supply, the wart is starved of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to survive, causing it to drop off and disappear. 

Freezing 

Warts can be removed using liquid nitrogen during a procedure called cryotherapy. During this treatment, a specialist will apply liquid nitrogen to the wart using a swab or a spray bottle. This will freeze and destroy the wart, which can cause a stinging sensation. 

Minor surgery  

When a wart is removed via surgical excision, a scalpel is used to cut the lump out of the skin. The treatment takes between fifteen to thirty minutes to complete, and a local anaesthetic can be used to reduce discomfort. 

Ultimately, if your wart is causing you discomfort or distress, then over-the-counter products, home remedies and conventional surgical procedures offer a possible solution. These options vary in their effectiveness, as home remedies are generally less likely to produce results than medical treatments. Nevertheless, some home remedies can be conducted using items that you already have at home, and—provided that you perform them carefully and safely—can be worth trying.

Importantly, if you have a suspicion that the lump on your skin might be something other than a wart, you must not perform any of the above home remedies. Instead, arrange an appointment with your doctor to have the growth examined.

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