Warts are benign skin growths on the hands and many other parts of the human body, including the face, feet, and genitals. Regardless of their location, they are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which enters the skin through small cuts and abrasions. X Trusted Source American Academy of Dermatology Go to Source Warts are contagious and can be spread by skin contact, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Removing warts from hands may not be easy, but you can achieve the success you desire by using several methods at home. If that doesn’t work, you can proceed with various medical procedures.
Common house method
Use a pumice stone on the wart. A quick and inexpensive way to remove warts from your hands is to use a pumice stone. Pumice is a natural abrasive that removes the top layer of warts completely, especially if they are covered with thick horny tissue. While a pumice stone is great for removing the top layer of warts, it doesn’t get to the “roots” beneath the skin’s surface. For this reason, it is appropriate to supplement the use of pumice stone with some type of topical ointment. With this combination, you should be able to remove the wart.
Before using the pumice stone, soak your hands in warm water for fifteen minutes to soften the skin.
If you have small warts without a hard shell, be careful when using a pumice stone. They can cause blisters or large cuts and subsequent bleeding. For these types of warts, you may want to use a smaller nail file.
People with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy should not use a pumice stone on their warts, as reduced nerve sensitivity can cause tissue damage.
Apply salicylic acid to the wart. Another way to get rid of warts gradually is to apply salicylic acid. Salicylic acid loosens keratin (a protein) from the surface of the wart and the calluses that cover it. However, application of these substances can damage the surrounding healthy skin, so be careful and apply any liquid, gel, ointment, or patch no more than twice a day. Before applying salicylic acid, moisten the surrounding skin with warm water and remove the top layer of the wart with a pumice stone or file (as mentioned above) to allow the acid to penetrate deeper into the wart. For best results, stick the wart overnight. Be patient – removing salicylic acid from warts on hands can take several weeks.
Salicylic acid is an over-the-counter drug that is available at most pharmacies. Some products may also contain dichloroacetic acid or trichloroacetic acid, which are substances that help warts burn faster.
For most warts on the hands, a 17% solution or a 15% salicylic acid patch will suffice.
Keep in mind that some warts on your hands will go away thanks to your immune system without needing to undergo any treatment. Therefore, it is recommended to wait a few weeks for your wart to heal on its own.
Try cryotherapy. With cryotherapy, warts are removed by freezing. This procedure is often performed by a dermatologist or general practitioner, but there are several over-the-counter liquid nitrogen products (Dr. Scholl Freeze Away, URGO, Wartner, etc.) that you can use at home. The application of liquid nitrogen initially causes blisters, which then go away with the wart over the course of a week. Multiple applications are needed to prevent warts from reappearing. You can make the liquid nitrogen treatment more effective by treating the wart with a pumice stone or file first.
Cryotherapy can be a little painful but is usually well managed by everyone. However, if the pain is unbearable, stop treatment and consult a doctor.
Liquid nitrogen can cause scars on fair skin and dark spots on darker skin, so be careful when applying it.
Application of ice and frozen gel pads is used as a form of cryotherapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, but not in the treatment of warts. This is ineffective and can cause frostbite.
Use wart cream. There are many over-the-counter creams that can help you treat warts and are usually less painful than cryotherapy. They work by disrupting the chemical structure of the wart and destroying it completely. These preparations often contain dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, 5-fluorouracil, zinc oxide, or small doses of retinoids (vitamin A derivatives). The application of this cream should be done by rubbing it onto the wart and then applying it for five minutes followed by washing the affected area.
Use a special pillow. This pillow acts like a cream. So you can apply the medicine directly to the wart or use a small piece of pad and leave it on the wart for about an hour. You can secure it in place with medical tape or plaster.
Retinoids are usually used to slow down the signs of aging, but they can also be used to remove dead skin cells from your face and prevent dirt from entering your pores. This includes warts.
Cover the wart with tape. While we don’t know the exact mechanism of this method, there are a number of testimonies (as well as some studies) that confirm that you can effectively remove warts by sticking them with regular duct tape. A 2002 study showed that 85% of the subjects had their warts removed within a month, which is faster than cryotherapy. Therefore, try to cover the wart on your hand with regular tape, and after peeling it off, use a pumice stone to remove the dead tissue. You may have to repeat this process a few times, but it’s definitely worth it. It is mild, inexpensive and without side effects.
Clean your skin with disinfectant alcohol, then cover the wart with a small piece of tape. Leave the tape in place for 24 hours and then replace it with a new one. Continue this cycle once a week, for six weeks if necessary.
Some people claim that non-porous tape like electrical tape works just fine, but so far there is no research to back it up.
Other unusual things that people do to get rid of warts are banana or potato peels.
Use apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is an ancient home method for getting rid of various skin problems, including warts. Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid and large amounts of acetic acid, which have antiviral effects (kills HPV and some other viruses). However, both of these acids can irritate healthy skin, so be careful when applying vinegar. Soak a cotton swab in vinegar and place it directly on the wart, which you then apply with a patch for the night. After about a week, you should see the wart gradually darken until it falls off completely. The affected area will soon grow new skin.
Apple cider vinegar can initially cause burning and mild swelling of the hands around the wart, but this usually goes away very quickly.
Another potential drawback is the characteristic vinegar smell that many people hate.
Acetic acid can also be found in white vinegar, but it doesn’t appear to be as effective as apple cider vinegar at removing warts.
Try using a small amount of garlic extract on the wart.Garlic is another raw material used in many home remedies for various health problems. It contains an ingredient called allicin, which is known to have antimicrobial effects that can kill various microorganisms, including HPV. A study was conducted in 2005 which confirmed that garlic extract could actually cure warts in just a few weeks. Also, the warts don’t come back even after a few months. You can apply crushed fresh garlic or store-bought extract directly to the wart, preferably daily for a week or two. After each application, cover the wart with a plaster, leave the garlic for a few hours, then replace it with a new one. For best results, apply garlic to the skin before going to bed.
Like apple cider vinegar, garlic can cause a slight burning or swelling of the skin around the wart, but it usually goes away on its own. Of course, garlic also has a distinctive smell.
A less effective way is to take garlic extract capsules, which attack HPV through your bloodstream.
Consider using essential oils. It is an oil extracted from the leaves and roots of giant arborvitae that has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for various health conditions, mainly due to its strong antiviral properties. It contains components that stimulate the immune system, which can then kill viruses like HPV and are therefore suitable for all types of warts. Apply the oil directly to the wart, leave it on for five minutes, then cover the area with a plaster. Repeat the same process twice a day for two weeks. Harvest oil is very aggressive, so it can easily irritate the skin around the wart. So be careful when using it.
To reduce the risk of skin damage, dilute yarrow oil with mineral oil or cod liver oil before applying it.
Harvest oil is usually recommended for stubborn warts that are resistant to other treatment methods. So it is the last resort in herbal medicine.
Zerava extract is also available in homeopathic tablet form to be taken under the tongue several times a day. The tablets are small and tasteless and contain only a small amount of blackberry extract, but can still be very effective and have no known side effects.
Don’t forget the tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an extract from an Australian tree called Melaleuca alternifolia. Due to its antimicrobial and antiviral effects, it can be used for a variety of skin conditions, including warts, but has been shown not to be as effective at penetrating warts as apple cider vinegar, garlic extract, or rosehip oil. However, tea tree oil can also be used internally as it supports the immune system, which can be very useful in preventing warts from coming back. Start by dripping 2-3 drops of tea tree oil on your warts twice daily for at least three to four weeks. To make this method more effective, first treat the wart with a pumice stone or a file.
Tea tree oil has been used in Australia and New Zealand for centuries but has only become popular in recent decades.
This oil can also very rarely cause skin irritation and various allergic reactions, especially in people who are more sensitive.
Ask your doctor. If your warts don’t go away on their own and the natural methods outlined above don’t help, make an appointment with your GP, especially if the wart is painful or in an uncomfortable place. Your doctor will examine your hand and decide if it is really a wart or another skin condition. Typical skin problems that may resemble warts include: corns, calluses, pigment spots, overgrowth of hair, acne, discharge, seborrheic keratosis, lichen planus, or squamous cell carcinoma. To rule out that it’s not a serious disease, a type of cancer, your doctor may take a tissue sample (biopsy) and examine it under a microscope.
If the growth on your hand is not a wart, your doctor will likely refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist) who will decide on the necessary treatment.
However, if it’s a common wart, your doctor will likely treat it with cryotherapy (a type that works better than over-the-counter medications). You can numb your hands locally before applying liquid nitrogen.
Cryotherapy performed by a doctor should not leave any traces. After the wart is removed, the hole will soon grow new skin.
Ask about other prescription medications. If you and your doctor aren’t too comfortable with cryotherapy, ask about stronger topical medications — these are usually just stronger versions of over-the-counter medications. For example, salicylic acid is usually sold in concentrations of around 17%, while the same prescription substance has concentrations of 27.5% and above, making it much more effective but also more dangerous. Another common prescription medication for warts (especially their plantar form on the feet) is cantharidin, a substance derived from an insect called bladder. Cantharidin is a caustic substance that burns warts. It is often used in combination with salicylic acid.
Studies have shown that using salicylic acid in combination with cryotherapy is more effective.
Prescription drugs high in salicylic acid are sometimes given to patients for home use, but there is a greater risk of skin irritation or scarring.
Cantaridin is toxic if ingested, so it is not usually given to patients at home.
Consider laser treatment. Today, advanced technology allows dermatologists and other doctors to treat a variety of skin conditions, including warts. For example, a pulsed dye laser can burn and destroy (burn) the miniature vessels that surround and nourish the wart, causing the wart to die and slowly fall off. Other, more conventional types of laser can burn the wart directly and within minutes, but usually require local anesthesia. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis and only a slight irritation of the surrounding skin remains.
Pulsed dye laser treatment has a 95% success rate on all types of warts, which usually do not recur.
Keep in mind that laser therapy can be very expensive and not all insurance will cover such a procedure, so think about how you are going to finance it in advance. Warts on hands are not considered a serious health condition, so the money will likely be in your own pocket.
In an emergency, talk to your doctor about options for surgery. If all natural methods and treatments fail to get rid of your warts, talk to your doctor about surgical removal options. Wart surgery is considered a minor (outpatient) procedure in which the growth is excised with a scalpel or the tissue is destroyed with an electric or ultrasonic device (electrodesiccation and curettage). Drying basically involves the destruction of the tissue that formed the wart and subsequent curettage, which is the scraping of the dead tissue with a metal instrument called a curette. This procedure is very painful and is therefore performed under local anesthesia.
Wart removal surgery usually leaves scars, so keep that in mind, especially if part of your job is looking at your hands.
It is also not uncommon for warts to reappear in the scar tissue after some time.
Cutting the deep wart tissue can cause it to spread to the surrounding skin, especially in people with weakened immune systems.