Are you embarrassed by itchy, unsightly warts? Well, don’t let it get you down too much. Warts are common, especially among children – it’s estimated that about one in five children get them.1 Caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, these raised patches of skin usually pop up on the hands, knees, feet, or face. The kind of warts you have – flat, plantar, mosaic, common, or genital – depends on the size, shape, and location where they occur.
Warts may itch or hurt, especially when they develop on the soles of the feet. Warts aren’t easily transmitted from person to person, they can get passed on through direct contact with infected skin or contaminated surfaces like towels or socks. They can, however, spread on your own body, so scratching one might cause it to spread to another part of your body. Conventional treatments for warts include the application of creams containing salicylic or lactic acid, the use of immune system stimulators like imiquimod, cryotherapy (when warts are frozen off with liquid nitrogen), and laser therapy (where a laser is used to burn off the wart). A vaccine called Gardasil is also available for teenage girls to protect them against HPV strains that cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
“Warts are usually harmless and don’t always require treatment – in fact, about 65% of warts go away on their own.2 But if you have multiple warts or have had one for over two years, you should seek medical attention.”
But creams don’t always work and treatments like cryotherapy can be painful and cause scarring. So, you may want to try some home remedies to get rid of that wart – as long as there is no infection, bleeding, or pain. It’s also a good idea to see your doctor if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system and have developed a wart.3 And do keep in mind that genital warts, which are sexually transmitted, require medical attention and must not be treated at home.4
1. The Duct Tape Method
Everyone’s got some duct tape lying around, right? First, apply a piece of duct tape over the wart and leave it there for six days. Then, remove the tape, soak the wart in water, and use a pumice stone to slough off the rough skin. Reapply the tape the next morning, and continue this process until the wart disappears (or for a maximum of two months).
A study found the duct tape method to be more effective (85% completely resolved) than cryotherapy (60% completely resolved). Though we don’t know exactly how the duct tape method works, some believe that it stimulates the immune system via local irritation.5
2. Bee Glue/Propolis
This resin created by bees is used as a sealant in the construction of hives. Bee glue protects beehives against infections and has antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It has been found to stimulate the thymus gland to boost the immune system.6
A study found that over 73% of people taking propolis orally for three months were able to get rid of their warts. Propolis tincture may also be applied locally.7
3. Cypress And Lemon Essential Oils
The antiviral properties in some essential oils have proven to be useful in treating warts. Applying a drop of undiluted essential oil of cypress and lemon on the wart twice a day will help it shrink. Note: Since lemon oil is photosensitive, you’ll want to keep the wart away from the sun or you could develop a dark spot where the wart was.8
4. Changeri Leaves
Ayurveda recommends treating a wart by rubbing it with a paste of changeri leaves (Oxalis corniculata, Linn.). This is considered to work better for flat warts.9
5. Pure Castor Oil
Brush pure castor oil on the infected areas a number of times a day to stop the virus from reproducing.
6. Epsom Salts And Apple Cider Vinegar
Make a mixture of Epsom salts and apple cider vinegar (in a ratio of 1:4) and dab it on the wart a few times a day.10 The combination can soothe the area and help in healing. To boot, apple cider vinegar is known for its antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, which could be why it works so effectively on warts.11
7. Banana Peel
According to a report in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal, taping a piece of banana peel to the wart, with the inside of the peel in contact with the wart, can speed up healing.12 It’s worth a try – at least you’ll have a banana to eat!
|↑1, ↑4||Warts, Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑2||Warts, Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑3||Warts, US National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Focht III, Dean R., Carole Spicer, and Mary P. Fairchok. “The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart).” Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 156, no. 10 (2002): 971-974.|
|↑6||Rector-Page, Linda G. Linda Page’s Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-healing for Everyone. Healthy Healing, Inc., 2000.|
|↑7||Zedan, Hatem, Eman RM Hofny, and Sahar A. Ismail. “Propolis as an alternative treatment for cutaneous warts.” International journal of dermatology 48, no. 11 (2009): 1246-1249.|
|↑8||Press, Sonoma. Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, An Introductory Guide: More Than 300 Recipes for Health, Home and Beauty. Arcas Publishing, 2014.|
|↑9||Namburi, UR Sekhar, and G. Babu. “A review on management of warts in Ayurveda.” AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda) 32, no. 1 (2011): 100.|
|↑10||Reader’s Digest. Home Hints and Timeless Tips: More Than 3,000 Tried-and-Trusted Techniques for Smart Housekeeping, Home Cooking, Beauty and Body Care, Natural Remedies, Home Style and Comfort, and Easy Gardening. Simon and Schuster, 2016.|
|↑11||Jennifer Houston, Ruth Tal. Super Fresh: Super Natural, Super Vibrant Vegan Recipe. Penguin. 2015.|
|↑12||Warszawer-Schvaroz, Livia. “Treatment of plantar warts with banana skin.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 68, no. 6 (1981): 975.|