Duct tape treatment has been shown to remove warts as described in my previous article Warts: Can Duct Tape Remove Them? However, for some people this treatment may not completely remove the wart. If you continue to have warts, there are other therapies that can be explored which may be done at home or in a dermatologist’s office.
Warts are benign growths that appear on the skin due to exposure to one of the many types of HPV viruses. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and while commonly occur on the hands or feet, may also appear on the face. The following treatments are only intended for used on these epithelial skin type warts, not genital warts which different medications must be applied or prescribed by a doctor. Facial warts should also be examined by a doctor prior to these treatments as should any wart on a child.
Common home treatments for warts:
1. Salicyclic acid: Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in over the counter products such as Compound W or is impregnated in pads that can be applied over the wart such as Dr. Scholl's Clear Away, or DuoFilm. Salicylic acid works by dissolving the protein (keratin) in the thickened skin of the wart. The acid will need to be applied for many weeks and sinks in better if you apply it to skin that has first been washed then dried. Do not use salicylic acid on areas of sensitive skin and if skin irritation occurs stop using the product.
2. Over the counter freeze off: This method uses an aerosolized chemical that can drop down to minus 70 degrees F (office cryotherapy goes down to minus 320 degrees F) to freeze the skin of the wart. The exact mechanism of how it works is not clear though it is thought, similar to duct tape, it stimulates some immune response in the body. Compound W makes a freeze off product but several applications may be needed to see a result. Forum posters report that it can be painful to use but many felt it removed or made their warts smaller.
Treatments a dermatologist performs:
1. Cantharidin: A doctor applies this chemical to the wart and covers it with a bandage. About 3-8 hours later, the area will become more painful and blister. The bandage can be removed within 24 hours. The dermatologist will remove the dead skin on the wart during your next visit and repeat the treatment if needed.
2. Nitrogen cryotherapy: Topical freezing of the wart is done by a dermatologist by spraying liquid nitrogen on to the wart for 10-30 seconds. Typically, three or four treatments, two to three weeks apart may be necessary. Unfortunately, cryotherapy may be painful and can cause scarring.
3. Pulsed dye laser: Laser treatments heat up and cauterize the blood vessels inside the wart by heating up the hemoglobin. Afterwards, the wart will slough off. Typically only one to three treatments are needed so it may be cheaper to use laser therapy, however, laser therapy is still potentially painful and can cause scarring.
We typically want to remove warts because they appear unsightly and may cause embarrassment. Interestingly, a Cochrane review of 6 studies showed that salicylic acid treatment effectively treated warts in 75 percent of the cases as compared with 48 percent in control groups. Salicylic acid was thought to be one of the most effective first line therapy in wart removal overall.
So if duct tape doesn’t work, you might want to head to the drugstore to try one the salicylic acid preparations prior to making an appointment to have a dermatologist treat your wart with a more invasive therapy.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at http://www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles