Treating Warts

Doctor examining man’s hand.You and your healthcare provider can talk about what treatment may be best for your wart or warts. To get rid of your warts, your healthcare provider may need to try more than one type of treatment. The methods described below are often used to treat warts.

Types of treatment

  • Up to two-thirds of warts will resolve within 2 years, even without treatment. So, doing nothing is sometimes a good option, particularly for smaller warts that are not causing symptoms.

  • Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) kills skin cells by freezing them. It kills the warts and destroys skin infected by the wart-causing virus. This is done in the healthcare provider’s office and will cause some discomfort. It may take several treatments over several weeks to get rid of the warts.

  • Prescribed topical medications can be put on the skin. These are usually applied in the health care provider's office.

  • There are also topical treatments that can be used at home. Over-the-counter medications that most often contain salicylic acid may be an option. These patches, liquids and creams are used at home. The medication is applied daily to the wart and nearby skin. It's usually left on overnight. The dead skin is filed down the next day. In 1 to 3 days, the procedure can be repeated. Topical treatments are sometimes combined with cryotherapy.

  • Electrodesiccation (a type of surgery) with curettage (scraping) may be used to remove warts. The healthcare provider applies numbing medication to the wart. Then the wart is scraped or cut off. This type of treatment is usually not the first line of therapy.

  • Laser surgery can vaporize wart tissue. This is done in the healthcare provider's office.

  • Injections can be used to treat warts that don’t respond to other treatments, particularly for stubborn or painful warts around the nails. This is done in the healthcare provider’s office.

When to seek medical treatment

It’s a good idea to have your healthcare provider check your warts. That way, any other skin problems can be ruled out. Sometimes, a callous or a corn can look like a wart, but the treatments may differ. Treatment can also provide relief from warts that bleed, burn, hurt, or itch. Genital warts should always be treated. They can spread to other people through sexual contact.

Getting good results

After having your warts treated, new warts may still appear. Don’t be discouraged. Warts often recur. See your healthcare provider again. He or she can tell you about the treatments that most likely will help clear your skin of warts.