warts need to be treated. They generally go away on
their own within months or years. This may be
because, with time, your
immune system is able to destroy the
human papillomavirus that causes warts.
You may decide to treat a wart if it is:
- Growing or spreading to other parts of your body or to
The goal of wart treatment is to destroy or remove the wart
without creating scar tissue, which can be more painful than the wart itself.
How a wart is treated depends on the type of wart, its location, and its
symptoms. Also important is your willingness to follow a course of treatment that can last for weeks or months.
Wart treatment isn't always
successful. Even after a wart shrinks or disappears, warts may return or spread
to other parts of the body. This is because most treatments only destroy the
wart and don't kill the virus that causes the wart.
- Warts: Should I Treat Warts?
Treating the warts yourself
Many people don't treat warts unless they are unsightly or painful. You can treat warts yourself with:
If your child has a wart, treatment probably isn't needed. That's because warts often go away on their own. But if the wart is on your child's face or genitals or is painful or spreading, your child should see a doctor for treatment. Otherwise, it is usually safe to treat a wart at home with duct tape or salicylic acid. If the wart doesn't start to improve within 2 weeks, see your doctor.
For more information, see Home Treatment.
If you have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, talk to your doctor before you try home treatment for warts.
Treatment by your doctor
Your doctor can treat warts with:
What to think about
It's important to
distinguish a plantar wart from a
callus before choosing a treatment. Wart treatment
applied to a callus may be painful or create scar tissue.
warts are often hard to treat because they lie beneath the skin. A doctor
may need to
pare the skin over a wart to help the medicine
penetrate the wart.
Before treating your warts, think about:
- The potential for scarring. Scarring is the most important thing
to think about when choosing a wart treatment. Scarring from treatment may be
permanent and can be as painful as the wart itself. The bottom of the foot is
especially sensitive, a consideration in the case of plantar warts. And scarring changes the way your skin looks. Treatments that are less likely to leave a scar
include salicylic acid, cryotherapy, and laser surgery.
- The cost. Home treatment
is often as effective as treatment by a doctor. And it costs less. But home
treatment may take longer. Less expensive home treatments include tape occlusion (duct tape) and nonprescription salicylic acid.
- Your ability to tolerate pain. Quicker but more painful methods
include some topical medicines (such as cantharidin) and cryotherapy.
- Your risk of infection. Treatment can sometimes cause infection. If you have an
impaired immune system or a condition such as
peripheral arterial disease, discuss your increased
risk of infection with your doctor. You may need to take special
- Your history of recurrent warts. If
you have a history of warts that come back, you may want to talk with your doctor about more aggressive
- The location and number of warts. Large areas covered by warts may be better treated with
salicylic acid than with more painful, potentially scarring
- Your age. Painful treatments, such as
cryotherapy, may not be appropriate for young children. If you are older than
age 60 and have never had warts, you may want to see a doctor to check any skin
growths for skin cancer.
- The time needed for treatment. Topical (putting medicine on the wart) treatment is often
slower than surgical treatment. Some treatment methods, such as immunotherapy
applied by a health professional, require repeated office visits. In such
cases, the expense and inconvenience may outweigh the benefits of