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How Are Warts and Verrucas Removed?

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 8 Jul 2022 | comments*Discuss
Warts Verrucias Verruca Hpv Wart Removal

Warts and verrucias, or fleshy growths found on the skin, are caused by the infection HPV (human papilloma virus). Common warts can be found on any areas of the skin but usually grow on the hands and feet. A verruca is another name for the plantar type of wart that is always found on the soles of the feet.

The occurrence of warts is very common and nearly everyone suffers from this type of growth at some point in their lives. Most warts will disappear without treatment within six months to two years of their initial appearance. However, some warts, especially those that occur on the feet can be painful or itchy. Thankfully, warts that are painful, unsightly, or that have a tendency to spread can be easily removed with the correct treatment.

At-Home Treatments

The most common choice for wart removal is the use of a non-prescription, at home treatment. These remedies come in a variety of applications and can be purchased in the medicine aisle or from the pharmacist at your local supermarket or chemist. Although these topical treatments are available in cream, gel, plaster, and paint forms they all contain salicylic acid as the active ingredient. Once applied to the wart this acid destroys the thick skin of the wart reducing its size and breaking down its structure.

To get the highest degree of effectiveness from these treatments you should follow the directions on the packaging exactly. To further speed healing you should also wash the infected area daily, rub off the treated area of the wart weekly with a pumice stone, and continue treating the area consistently until the wart is gone.

For stubborn warts two other types of more aggressive treatment are available for home use. These remedies include silver nitrate, which burns away the wart, and cryotherapy, which freezes the wart. The silver nitrate treatment is available in pencil form and is applied daily for three to six days depending on the type of wart. Cryotherapy should be used carefully since it can kill the surrounding healthy skin, and never be used by people with diabetes or by women who are pregnant.

When to See a Doctor

If your choice of home remedy does not yield results after the prescribed length of treatment it may be time to consult with your doctor. Hard to treat or stubborn warts usually respond better to prescription strength treatments. Depending on the severity of your condition and the type of wart that you have, your doctor may choose one of three available treatments.

Chemical treatments, such as the application of formaldehyde, are safe, simple options that are very effective. These treatments work in the same way as over-the-counter treatments but contain higher levels of active ingredient for faster results.

Cryotherapy at your doctor's office is similar to the cryotherapy available at your pharmacy however the liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide that is used is of a higher caliber and produces a much colder temperature. After treatment a blister will appear where the wart was, then a scab will appear. When the scab falls off, usually within ten days, you can then go back for another treatment if necessary.

If all other options fail your doctor may recommend surgery. This option is usually reserved for painful warts, or very large warts that have not responded to other treatments and should only be used in the most severe cases. In this procedure the doctor will use a small instrument to scrap away the wart. This scrapping can cause scarring and can also lead to the spread of the wart virus.

Better Left Alone

Before you decide which treatment is best for you, you may want to consider skipping treatment all together. Since most warts will eventually clear up on their own you need to decide if the cost, inconvenience, and possible side effects of treatment are worth it.

Most over-the-counter remedies are relatively inexpensive but since repeated treatments may be necessary the cost could grow out of control. And, since the removal of a wart is not usually deemed medically necessary the removal by your doctor may not be covered by NHS.

No matter which remedy you choose the treatment will most certainly involve inconvenience. Trips to the doctor's office, daily home treatments, and the care of the area could take up a lot of your time. In some cases it may be easier to wait until the wart disappears naturally.

Finally, if your wart is not painful or does not interfere with your daily routines it might be better to leave it alone. Wart removal surgery and some topical creams can leave behind unsightly scarring. And, other treatments such as cyrotherapy can be quite painful. To avoid these conditions it may be best to take a wait and see approach before beginning any treatment.

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Suzannah Weiss - 8-Jul-22 @ 11:01 PM
My 18 year old has had warts on her feet for over 6 years. We treated at home with otc mess, duct tape, essential oils. Then her pediatrician treated. We've been at the dermatologist for over 4 years. No success! 2 surgeries, laser treatments, freezing off, trimming, pumice stone. We haven't had any success :( the next thing they suggest is some expensive compound that is mixed and shipped, we have to try it for a month....the other thing we haven't tried is injections of yeast, supposedly her body would attack it trying to kill it off and the wart too. The biggest one is on the ball of her foot and can be painful when it grows so big. The little ones come and go with some of the treatments but always return, the BIG one is never gone away. Any suggestions?
MommaC - 26-Sep-18 @ 8:03 PM
@Slash and burn! - this is not really to be advised as mistakes can happen, especially if a person has never tried this method before.. As the old saying goes 'do not try this at home!'
Jon - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:28 PM
There is only ONE way to get rid of verrucas - slash and burn. First put some cold water in a washing up bowl, to plunge your foot/hand into when it gets too painful, and have an old towel handy. Then you'll need a 60 watt soldering iron with a fine tip, and an old wooden breadboard to put it down on to stop it burning the floor (unless it has a stand).Plug it in, and when it's really hot, touch the hot end to the verruca for as long as you can stand, on and off again until you have to put your foot or hand in the water to cool. Keep going for 5 minutes if you can. It's painful while you do it, but there is no pain afterwards. Wait a few days, then get a really sharp small pair of nail scissors (don't use a penknife) and cut all the dead skin away from around the verruca.Straight after this, burn it again. Continue like this and the verruca will DEFINITELY disappear. I had a huge one on my foot which had been there for 17 years, and it took 1 year to get rid of it like this. You will see the small black fleck which is the verruca itself, but it does take weeks to cut it out. However, this method works, 100%! - unlike any other (I had tried them all). Unfortunately you may still get other verrucas in the future - but you will be ready this time! I have just seen a tiny one on my toe, which should only take a few weeks to get rid of with the slash and burn. Sorry, but all these expensive creams, trips to the doctor etc are useless - show the verruca you are tough, and it will definitely depart! Good luck!
Slash and burn! - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:13 AM
@Benjy - if they don't then it's advisable to visit a doctor who will prescribe something stronger to shift them.
Fliss - 14-Oct-16 @ 2:16 PM
Verrucas will not go even with silver nitrate
Benjy - 13-Oct-16 @ 10:33 PM
Some good common sense to wait and see if the shallow wart on my forehead goes on its own. I will wash it with cold water every morning and then put cream on.
beenrip - 24-Apr-12 @ 9:27 PM
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