How to Treat a Wart at Home

Two Parts:Treating Warts at HomeUsing Herbal Remedies

Warts are benign (non cancerous) skin growths that can appear anywhere on your body, although the face, hands, feet and genitals are the most common areas. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which infects the top layer of the skin through small cuts and abrasions.[1] Warts are contagious and can spread upon contact, especially among those with weakened immune systems. Getting rid of warts can be challenging, but there are a variety of potentially helpful home remedies you can try.

Part 1
Treating Warts at Home

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    Exfoliate with a pumice stone. One of the easiest and most cost-effective things you can do for wart removal is exfoliate them with a pumice stone. Pumice stone is naturally abrasive and works well to essentially scrape or sand away your warts, particularly the ones on the bottoms of the feet (plantar warts) that form thick overlaying callouses.[2]
    • A pumice stone is an inexpensive way of removing warts above the surface of the skin, but keep in mind that warts have "roots" below the surface of the skin. As such, exfoliate most of the wart away with a pumice stone, then plan on applying a compound that destroys the roots and prevents it from growing back.
    • Before using the pumice stone as a wart exfoliator, soak the surrounding skin in warm water for about 15 minutes to soften it up — this is particularly important for plantar warts that have a thick callous covering them.
    • Be very cautious when using a pumice stone on genital warts due to increased sensitivity and thinner skin on the shaft of the penis and labia. A small emery board may be more appropriate for genital warts.
    • People with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy should not use a pumice stone on their hands or feet because they have reduced sensations and may damage surrounding tissue.
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    Apply some salicylic acid. Another technique to remove the fleshy part of the wart that appears above the surface of the skin (and the callouses on plantar warts) is applying an over-the-counter salicylic acid preparation, which is widely available at pharmacies. Salicylic acid is a type of keratolytic, which means it dissolves the keratin (protein) of the surface of wart and any callouses that may be covering the wart.[3] It can take several weeks to get rid of a large wart using salicylic acid, so patience is the key.
    • Keratolytics also destroy/irritate healthy skin, so take care when you apply the liquid, gel, ointment or patch. Before application of the salicylic acid (up to twice a day), soak the surrounding skin and file down most of the wart with a pumice stone or emery board so the medication can better penetrate into the roots of the wart.
    • Salicylic acid products sometimes contain dichloroacetic (or trichloroacetic) acid, which helps burn away the visible part of the wart. However, be careful not to apply it on the surrounding healthy skin.
    • For most warts, buy and use a 17% salicylic acid solution or a salicylic acid patch at 15% strength.[4]
    • Warts aren't considered a medical concern and may not require any treatment, especially if they're not painful — sometimes they disappear on their own.
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    Try cryotherapy on warts. Cryotherapy means to freeze and it's a commonly used procedure by family physicians and dermatologists to get rid of warts. However, there are some over-the-counter liquid nitrogen products that are available in liquid or spray form (Compound W Freeze Off, Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away) that you can use at home.[5] The application of liquid nitrogen makes a blister around the wart initially, then the blister and wart eventually fall off after about a week. Multiple applications are typically needed so that the wart doesn't grow back. To make cryotherapy more effective, file down the wart with pumice stone or something similar before applying the liquid nitrogen product.
    • Cryotherapy sounds painful, but it's not too bad. It's commonly used by doctors (in higher prescription strength) on children to remove warts and other benign skin growths.
    • Liquid nitrogen can mildly scar light-colored skin or cause dark spots in people with dark-colored skin, so be careful when applying it to your wart.
    • Applying ice is a form of cryotherapy used for sprains and strains, but don't try to freeze your warts with ice cubes! It isn't effective and you may give yourself frost bite.
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    Cover the wart with duct tape. There are many anecdotal reports (and some research) claiming that applying regular duct tape to common and plantar warts is an effective treatment, although how it may work is still a mystery.[6] In a 2002 study, 85% of people using duct tape were cured of their warts within 28 days, which was more effective than cryotherapy.[7] As such, cover your wart with silver duct tape, then remove and pumice away the dead tissue and see if it grows back. You may have to repeat the process a few times, but due to its low cost, ease of application and lack of risk, it's definitely worth a try.
    • Clean your skin with rubbing alcohol and securely attach a piece of duct over the wart. Leave it on for 24 hours at a time before replacing it with a fresh piece of tape and repeat this cycle for 1 week increments (up to 6 weeks if needed). Always pumice the wart and clean with rubbing alcohol before applying new tape.
    • Some people have reported that other nonporous tape, such as electrical tape, works as well as duct tape for plantar and common warts.

Part 2
Using Herbal Remedies

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    Apply apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar (made from fermenting apples) has anecdotal reports of numerous health benefits, and one of them is combating warts of all types. Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid and a high percentage of acetic acid, which has antiviral properties (kills HPV and other viruses).[8] However, citric and acetic acids also irritate healthy tissue, so be cautious with application of apple cider vinegar. Try soaking a cotton ball in the vinegar and applying it to the wart, then cover it with a bandage overnight and replace the next day. It may take several days to notice significant improvement.
    • Applying apple cider vinegar may cause mild burning or swelling in the skin around the wart initially, but it usually fades away quickly. After about a week of application, the wart should become dark in color and then fall off. New skin will soon be seen in its place.
    • White vinegar is made of acetic acid also, but it doesn't seem to have the impact on warts that apple cider vinegar does. More research is needed to understand why.
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    Try garlic extract. Garlic is an ancient home remedy that's been used for many conditions, although it was eventually discovered that its strong antimicrobial abilities are due to the chemical, allicin, which can kill a variety of microorganisms, including viruses such as HPV.[9] Raw, crushed garlic or store-bought extracts can be applied directly on to warts a couple of times per day for a week or two. Once you apply it, cover it up with a Band-Aid for a few hours until you have to reapply it. Consider doing so at night before bedtime, so the allicin can absorb deeply into the wart and get to its roots.
    • In a 2005 study, chloroform extract of garlic was discovered to completely cure warts after a few weeks and there was no reappearance noted even after four months.[10]
    • As an alternative, albeit a less effective one to combat warts, capsules of refined garlic can be taken orally, which attacks HPV from the bloodstream.
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    Consider using Thuja oil. Thuja oil is derived from the leaves and roots of Western Red Cedars. It's an ancient Ayurvedic remedy popular for many diseases and conditions due to its strong antiviral properties. It's become a very popular herbal and homeopathic remedy for warts of all types. Thuja oil contains compounds that can stimulate certain cells of your immune system that are efficient at scavenging and killing viruses or viral infected cells, which is helpful for destroying HPV and eliminating warts.[11] Apply Thuja oil directly onto warts, allow it to absorb for a few minutes then cover with a Band-Aid. Repeat twice daily for up to a couple weeks. However, keep in mind that Thuja oil is usually quite potent and can easily irritate sensitive skin, which is especially important to remember if you're applying it to genital warts.
    • If applying Thuja oil to sensitive skin, consider diluting it with some mineral or cod liver oil.
    • Thuja oil is often recommended for particularly stubborn warts that are resistant to other treatments. Even still, significant results are usually seen with these stubborn varieties after one to two months of daily application.
    • Thuja is also available as homeopathic pills, which are meant to be taken under the tongue (and dissolved) a couple times daily. The pills are small and tasteless and have only minute amounts of Thuja extract, but they work well for some people also.
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    Use tea tree oil. Application of tea tree oil, an extract of melaleuca alternifolia, on warts can be effective also, but perhaps not to the extent that apple cider vinegar, garlic extract, and Thuja oil are. Like the others, tea tree oil is a strong antimicrobial agent that can destroy viruses such as HPV, but it doesn't penetrate tissue quite as well as some of the above mentioned herbal remedies.[12] Tea tree oil also boosts immunity, which can be helpful in preventing re-infection with HPV. Start with two to three drops of the tea tree oil on the wart, twice daily for at least three to four weeks and see how it works. To make it more efficient, remember to file down the fleshy part of the wart with pumice or a similar exfoliant.
    • Tea tree oil has been a popular natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory for many generations in Australia and New Zealand, but has become better know in North America in the last decade or so.
    • Tea tree oil can cause both irritant and allergic skin reactions in some people who are especially sensitive, but the prevalence is pretty rare.


  • Avoid direct contact with warts, including your own, as it can spread to other areas of your body.
  • Don't use the same pumice stone on your warts as you use on your healthy skin and nails.
  • Wash your hands carefully after touching your warts or those of others.

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Categories: Home Remedies