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HomeHealth TopicDermatology

What Are the Best Natural Remedies and At-Home Treatments for Warts and Verrucas?

Sonya K. Narla, DOSophie Vergnaud, MD
Written by Sonya K. Narla, DO | Reviewed by Sophie Vergnaud, MD
Published on June 9, 2021

Key takeaways:

  • Warts are caused by viruses and will typically go away on their own over 1 to 2 years.

  • Some home remedies, like salicylic acid, may be more helpful than others.

  • If you’ve been trying home remedies for a couple of months without improvement, it may be time to visit your doctor. 

Close-up of salicylic acid cream covering a wart on a person's pointer finger.
TPAP8228/iStock via Getty Images

Warts are usually harmless, but they can be irritating and seem to pop out of nowhere. Some people are also bothered by how warts look. Warts are contagious and extremely common, especially in younger people. In fact, up to 33% of children and teenagers have warts. So it’s no surprise that there are tons of home remedies out there. But which popular home remedies actually work and which one don’t? Read on for answers. 

What are warts and verrucas?

Common warts, also known as verruca vulgaris, are non-cancerous skin bumps caused by viruses. Common warts can be found anywhere on the body, but they most often appear on the hands and fingers. Verruca is a term used to describe plantar warts, which are warts specifically on the feet. 

Are warts and verrucas dangerous?

Warts are usually totally harmless, but they can cause itching and discomfort. Some people also don’t like the way warts look. If you have plantar warts on the bottom of your feet, they may be more uncomfortable because of the pressure from shoes and walking. 

Can you treat all types of warts and verrucas at home?

For the most part, it is fine to try and treat warts and verrucas at home first, unless they are on a sensitive body area like the face or armpits. Those areas can be more prone to irritation from a home remedy. You should see your doctor first if your warts are: 

  • Very painful

  • Changing size and shape

  • Becoming red and irritated

Which wart removal home removal remedies work and which ones don’t?

There are countless home remedies out there. You may have one friend who swears by duct tape and vinegar and another friend who hasn’t had any success. So, which popular home remedies actually work and which ones don’t?

Watchful waiting

Because warts are caused by viruses, our bodies are usually able to fight off the virus over time and the wart will go away on its own. In fact, half of the time the warts will go away within a year without any treatment, according to this study on teenagers and school-aged children. If you have a compromised immune system, it may take longer for warts to go away. Adults may be more likely to need treatment for warts. 

Duct tape

Even though it’s one of the most popular wart removal home remedies, research is conflicting when it comes to duct tape. It may or may not be helpful. This method consists of covering the wart with a piece of duct tape and changing the tape every few days. It may take a few weeks before you see any results, if at all. 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is available over-the-counter and works by wearing down the layers of the wart over time. Sometimes, salicylic acid can cause irritation to the surrounding skin. Overall, studies show that this is an effective home remedy for warts, especially for plantar warts. This may be one of the most-effective home remedies. 

Garlic

Garlic extract has some antiviral properties and can be used to remove warts. Research is limited, but one study showed that garlic extract helped treat warts without recurrence after 3 to 4 months. 

Apple cider vinegar

Some people swear by apple cider vinegar for the treatment of warts. However, there is no current research that proves it’s effective. It’s relatively safe to try at home, but it may cause skin irritation. 

Nail polish

Using clear nail polish on warts is another popular home remedy without any research behind it. The idea is that the nail polish “suffocates” the wart and makes it go away faster. 

How do you know if your home remedy for wart or verrucas removal is working?

It may take a few weeks to a few months for home remedies to work. You may notice a decrease in wart size. If you have multiple warts, you may see one or two warts go away. These could be signs that the home remedy is working. 

How can you prevent the spread of warts?

Here are some things you can do to make sure your wart doesn’t spread to others:

  • Cover your wart and avoid touching other people’s warts.

  • Keep your hands clean by hand washing.

  • Avoid shaving over your wart. This can spread the virus that causes warts faster.

  • Wear shoes in locker rooms, around pools and changing rooms, and in other warm moist areas.

When should you see a doctor for wart removal?

You may want to see a doctor if:

  • You have been trying home remedies for a few months without any improvements.

  • You have multiple warts in one area.

  • You have warts in a sensitive area like the face, armpits, or genital region.

  • The warts are very irritating and bothersome.

The bottom line

Not all home remedies are created equal. Salicylic acid seems to be the most researched and effective home remedy and can be found over-the-counter. Other home remedies, even though they’re not heavily researched, are usually harmless and may be worth a shot. If you have multiple warts in one location, warts in a sensitive area, wart pain or irritation, or a compromised immune system, you may need to consult your doctor for more effective treatment options. 

References

Ada. (2022). Common warts.

American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Warts: Tips for managing.

View All References (8)

Bruggink, S. C., et al. (2010). Cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen versus topical salicylic acid application for cutaneous warts in primary care: randomized controlled trial. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Bunick, C. G., et al. (2012). Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Goldman, R. D. (2019). Duct tape for warts in children. Canadian Family Physician.

Holt, V. (2021). 12 home remedies for warts you can actually make right at home. The Healthy.

InformedHealth.org. (2019). Warts: Overview. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Lipke, M. M. (2006). An armamentarium of wart treatments. Clinical Medicine & Research.

MedlinePlus. (2016). Warts.

Pazyar, N., et al. (2011). Garlic in dermatology. Dermatology Reports.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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