The best way to remove a stubborn wart, I've found, is to use a combination of a good wart removing solution (generally something containing Salicylic acid) in tandem with a small block of pumice. Apply the acid when it's convenient to walk around with the wart bare for a while, and allow the acid to soak in and dry. This will painlessly kill the excess skin which composes much of the wart. Do this once or twice every day.

Meanwhile, leave the pumice in your shower stall or bathtub, and near the end of each shower or bath, scrub the wart vigorously with it. Your wart should be gone in about a week!

My own wart removal technique as a youth essentially involved a lot of chewing. I bit them off.

Eventually it worked, and my pinkie became permanently wart-free. Now, of course, this horrifies me and sort of grosses me out. Which is fortunate, because after many years of physicals in which doctors assured me I didn't need any sort of pelvic exam ("You're young! You're not having penetrative sex! You're probably fine!") I finally realized by myself that I had warts somewhere besides my pinkie.

I can't bend that far.

I know, this is far too much information. But it's important for people to talk about this kind of thing, because there is so much conflicting information about it. A friend of mine who is a pop culture maven avers that HPV is the new Favorite STI of Health Educators Everywhere for terrifying teenagers and pushing abstinence: hence the wildly conflicting and often scary stories about it.

Different sources of information about genital warts say everything from "More than 80% of all cervical cancer is caused by HPV... and (it) is also known to cause anal cancer in men...." (from the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center) to "There are more than 80 different types of HPV; certain types cause warts on the hands and feet and others cause genital warts...." (Kansas Department of Health's HPV Fact Sheet] and "Some types of HPV have also been linked to cervical cancer." (Blue Cross' genital warts information page; emphasis mine). If you suspect you have HPV, it's important to remember that (according to one Medscape article), whi'e "HPV DNA has been detected in 80% to 90% of CIN 3 lesions and invasive cervical cancers... (only) specific subtypes" (possibly as few as five of the eighty or so known subtypes of HPV) "have been associated with a greater risk of progression to dysplasia and cervical cancer."

Partly, I think, because attitudes toward genital warts vary so widely, there is also a wide variety of opinions about wart removal.

Several of the pages I found on the subject focused on (surgical) wart removal as a major part of treatment. (For example....) This is a good example of how "Western" or "allopathic" medicine differs from many of the other medical and healing systems out there. What distinguishes it is the original premise that the body can't heal itself, and the idea that the best way to cure a disease is to introduce something toxic to that disease into the body.

There are other ways to remove warts. The one with which I'm most familiar is to bolster the body's immune system until it can fight off the virus or keep it in check by itself.

While most sources suggest that human papillomavirus resides in the body forever, some new studies are finding that a few people have fought off the virus entirely. TheStranger.com says that "HPV may leave the body after a number of years, although this hasn't been determined for sure." Some women's immune systems have been found to overcome the virus entirely.

The likelihood that this could be a valid way of looking at the virus is increased by the fact that a large percentage of people who have HPV in a form that causes warts either never have an outbreak of warts, or have them only once, because their immune systems manage to control the infection.

What are some ways to strengthen your immune system to "remove" the warts, and possibly the virus?

  • Vitamin C supplements in large doses: Linus Pauling, the doctor who initially discovered the link between vitamin C and the immune system, was using doses of five to ten grams in his subjects. One to five grams seems like a lot, compared to the USDA Recommended Daily Allowance of sixty milligrams; however, it is what has been proven to be most effective in most people. If you find that your urine turns bright orange-yellow, it means that your body couldn't absorb all of the vitamin; the best thing to do is to decrease your dose, make sure you're taking several smaller doses during the day rather than one large one, and try gradually increasing it as your body gets used to the vitamin and finds ways to use it.
  • Mushrooms: There are several supplements available in health food stores that offer concentrated doses of the mushrooms that are known to greatly help the immune system, including shiitake, reishi, and maitake. Many of these are more powerful than vitamin C.
  • Aloe vera: possibly most palatable in juice form. This has also been used in cancer treatment, with patients drinking as many as one to three quarts a day for best results.
Basically, don't worry as much about the warts as the virus in your system. Removing an individual wart can be painful or at least time-consuming and will not prevent future warts or make you healthier. It will not even necessarily decrease the likelihood of transmitting wart-causing viruses to others, since it's possible to pass on the virus in the pre-outbreak stage. Do your own research, find a doctor you trust (if you can afford such a thing) and listen to what your body needs.

Sources:

  • L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center: http://www.laglc.org/std/STD02.5.htm
  • HPV FAQ page, where people answer each other's questions and share their experiences: http://www.hpvfaq.com/
  • Kansas Department of Health and the Environment HPV Fact Sheet: www.kdhe.state.ks.us/hiv-std/fact_sheets/aj1241.pdf
  • TheStranger.com's clip-and-save guide to STIs: http://www.thestranger.com/2002-09-26/ex5.html
  • Google's cache of the Medscape article on HPV's relation to cancer:
    http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:iEIKzU8yOEcJ:
    www.medscape.com/viewarticle/408860+hpv+%22%25+infected%22+asymptomatic&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
  • Disclaimer - I am not a doctor. The below is, however, from my own personal experience; of course, your mileage may vary.

    I've found the traditional treatments (pumice stones, weird creams, and so on) to be ineffective. I had my wart treated with liquid nitrogen.

    The procedure is thus:

    1. Find a doctor that is able to perform this kind of treatment. (It isn't available everywhere but my university doctor had an easy supply of liquid nitrogen from the nearby physics department).
    2. The doctor dips a (ahem) stick thing into a flask of really seriously cold liquid nitrogen.
    3. You hold out your hand and try not to look too nervous.
    4. The doctor gently applies the end of the stick to the wart. This really bloody hurts. There is a faint sizzling sound for a few seconds and you try not to scream, because after all the doctor still has the open flask of liquid nitrogen and you don't want to startle him.
    5. The doctor takes the stick away, and sends you on your way. At this point the wart is an alarmingly bright yellow.
    6. A few hours later, your hand finally stops hurting.
    7. Over the next twelve(ish) hours the wart turns black.
    8. Over the next day or two, it hardens and becomes a scab.
    9. Eventually, it falls off, or more likely, you pick it off.
    10. Underneath, hopefully, there is fresh pink wart-free skin. If it was a very large wart, there may be some remnants (i.e. a much smaller wart). In this case, you can return for another treatment.

    In my (admittedly very limited) experience, it would have to be one seriously damned huge wart to need more than two treatments.

    So, in summary, it really hurts (although see the updates below), but not for very long, and is totally devastatingly effective. The warts don't know what hit them.

    As for how it works, the doctor told me that it's not quite as straightforward as the virus being killed by the low temperature. Supposedly, the human immune system is quite capable of fighting off the wart virus, but it doesn't have any reason to since it's not really harmful. Apparantly the 'attack' of the liquid nitrogen kicks the immune system into action, and so if you have several warts you may only need the freeze treatment on one of them in order to convince the immune system that 'warts aren't good' and have them all vanish. The doctor did indicate that this was theoretical; no doubt the world of medical research has more important things to be getting on with than proving this. (Rose Thorn informs me that a standard podiatrist treatment of cutting the wart and treating with acid or alkali works the same way.)

    Update 2002-07-10
    Maybe it isn't totally effective after all. My original treatment was back in 1998. Over the last week or so I've noticed the wretched wart is starting to reappear. I will be heading back for more freeze-therapy I fear.

    Update 2002-08-01
    I went for my re-treatment today, at a different surgery, since I've moved house since my original treatment. This time the doctor had some kind of advanced applicator tool, rather than the rather low-tech cotton-bud I'd experienced before. The new tool was much more precise, enabling the doctor to only freeze the affected area. It was much less painful - it still hurt, but it was nothing like as bad as before. There was no unsettling sizzling noise either. I have to wait a few weeks to see if it's been effective though, apparantly.

    Update 2003 (whoops, forgot about this)
    It took a few treatments but I'm all better now.

    Wart Removal By Duct Tape

    So yeah, apparently duct tape is one of the best wart removal methods around. Who would have guessed?

    According to a recently conducted study, the duct tape wart removal system worked more consistently than freezing with liquid nitrogen. This is wonderful, because duct tape is cheap, easy to use, and much, much more pain-free than anything involving temperatures of -200 degrees centigrade.

    Anyway, the study, reported in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and conducted at the Madigan Army Medical Center, compared 51 patients from 3 to 22 years of age. After two months 85% of the 26 volunteers who received the duct tape method lost their warts, as opposed to 60% of the volunteers who received the liquid nitrogen method.

    Researches believe duct tape works by irritating the warts, which are then attacked by the immune system. Destroyed tissue can be scraped or abraded away.

    The duct tape method works like this:

    A piece of duct tape is placed securely over the wart. It is left on for 6 days straight. If at any time it falls off, another piece is applied. At the end of the 6th day the duct tape is removed and the wart is soaked in water. Then an emery board or piece of pumice is used to scrape off the tissue. The wart is allowed to dry overnight, then duct tape is reapplied in the morning for 6 more days.
    A friend of mine used to have his hands covered with warts. They were not very annoying, but rather unsightly. When he'd decided he wanted them removed, he started by going to the doctor who treated his warts with liquid nitrogen. Because there were so many of them and you don't want to have your hands all covered in freezing burns, this was a painful and time consuming option. Also it wasn't very effective as the warts came back.

    Someone then gave him the tip of using a homeopathic over-the-counter treatment based on thuya. Lo and behold, this worked, after a few weeks the warts were all gone and they have stayed away since then.

    The thuya is a conifer, also called 'tree of life' according to the homeopathics, and it's supposed to be good for children who easily develop emotional symptoms and who are not very stable. Such children often feel like they're being watched, which makes them suspicious and can give them the feeling they're worthless. Adults, too, can suffer from this. Thuya helps these people, who suffer from such symptoms because they are not fully incarnated, to be grounded on this world.

    Apparently it works against warts too, although the connection between incarnation and warts is not quite clear to me. Anyway, if you're having a persistent wart problem, thuya might work for you.


    Update 2006
    Since writing the above, I have now tried thuya myself. It does work, but application is somewhat awkward.

    The medicine I bought is a tincture of thuya in alcohol. It comes in a small glass bottle with an opening that is supposed to produce drops, like an eye drops bottle. The label says: Apply to wart twice daily and let dry. That sounds simple, doesn't it? Except it isn't.

    The bottle doesn't produce drops when you just hold it upside down, you have to shake it a bit. The tincture itself is as fluid as water. Now I don't know about you, but most of my body parts aren't level. So even if you do manage to get a drop of tincture to land on your wart, most of it immediately flows away and down your hand, arm, shoulder, wherever. In the end I took to soaking the end of a q-tip in the tincture and wetting the wart with that. That worked. And yes, the wart did disappear after a week or two.

    There are some great alternative treatments for warts. Anyone who either does not wish to use acids on their skin, or who has had problems with over the counter treatments, should look into less potentially harmful treatments. Going to the doctor for freezing is an option, but may leave a permanent scar. This clearly does not leave one much better off cosmetically. Some people don't respond at all to over the counter treatments such as salicylic acid or freezing-based treatments.

    The most effective remedy I have found is Vitamin E. Vitamin E generally comes in small, liquid filled pills. Simply pierce the pill, squeeze the contents onto the wart, and cover it with a bandage. Repeat twice daily, and results should appear in about a weeks time.

    Vitamin E treatments work by stimulating the area around the wart. Vitamin E stimulates the immune system, which can then better fight the virus living in your skin.

    This treatment can be combined with numerous other natural remedies, such as ingesting garlic pills, or taping the wart. Sealing off the area from air can effectively kill the tissue and speed the body's rejection of the wart.

    As another noder pointed out, the trick is to kill the virus, not tear/burn/slice/freeze your own skin off.

    The best method I've found for doing this is plain old raw garlic. I've tried it several times on various people, for skin tags as well as warts and plantar warts, and not only does it work really well, there's a really low recurrence rate -- that is, neither myself nor any of the other guinea pigs ever had one come back that I know of.

    I call it "The Garlic Slab Cure". Garlic, as you probably know, is quite powerfully antibiotic, antifungal and, for all we know, anti-alien-bodysnatch. So what you do is, take a clove of garlic, peel it, and cut it in half shortways. Take from one of these halves a cross-section, making the closest thing to a coin-shaped slice or, as we say, a slab.

    Slap the slab on the wart, and trim off the extra -- you don't want garlic on your bare skin for very long; it can actually leave a burn. Put a band-aid over that and leave it on for either one whole day or one whole night--about 10-12 hours total. Then take it off, and let it air for the next 10-12 hours; lather rinse repeat.

    The wart will get red and irritated after 1-3 days, and fall off in 5-14 days (depending on the size and depth of the problem). It will bleed a little, but probably not leave a scar, and there's almost no chance that it'll become infected, since you've had an antiseptic on it the whole time. And as I said, since this kills the virus in your skin that caused the thing in the first place, it's highly unlikely that it would ever come back in that location--though, if you're prone to warts for whatever reason, you may get them in other locations, of course.

    Duct tape works by almost the same principle, except instead of being germicidal, it kills the virus by depriving it of oxygen. In cases where this doesn't work (some wart germs are anaerobic, and sometimes some air can leak in), garlic is a good option.

    Duct Tape! Is there anything it can’t do?

    Ugh, warts. If you’ve had a problem with them before, you understand why people are so desperate to try any cure. They’re unsightly, occasionally painful, and generally embarrassing.

    For years, I’ve had a fairly large wart on my palm, right near the heart line. I’d gotten pretty used to it, but eventually I decided to make a quick visit to the doctor and have it dealt with. I had some plantar warts on my heel as well.

    The process of having the warts burned off wasn’t too bad. The plantar warts stung for half a second, then stopped. The doctor said it was unlikely that they would be affected. Plantar warts are stubborn things. She assured me that they would go away on their own, but considering it had been at least three years since they appeared, I doubted that.

    The wart on my palm was not as easy. The sensation isn’t easy to recognize unless you’ve had liquid nitrogen make contact with your skin before. First it just hurts, then it burns, followed by a sort of pulsing pain. But if it would get rid of the wart, it’d be worth it, right?

    Unfortunately, this method did not work for me in the slightest. It produced a dime-sized blood blister that throbbed with pain for days, to the extent that I couldn’t sleep properly. Okay, so I might just be a wimp, but still. When the blood blister finally healed, it left a strange island-shaped cluster of warts where before there had just been a round one. Afterwards, more warts began to appear on my thumb, forefinger and middle finger. It could be a coincidence, but I doubt it.

    In all likeliness, I probably just a unlucky experience, but I wasn’t desperate to repeat the event, so when I stumbled upon PhasedWeasel’s wu I figured I’d the duct tape method a try. It's simple. Cover the wart with duct tape. After a week, remove the duct tape, soak the wart and scrub off the dead skin. Let it dry for the night, then repeat the process until the warts disappear. It worked pretty effectively, so if you’re going to attempt it, I’d like to offer some tips.

    1. This isn’t a very expensive or demanding method, but you do need a few things: a roll of duct tape (it’s best to get a new one so no one will steal it for duct tape’s many other purposes), a pumice stone (a nail file is fine to use on small warts, but if you’re attacking plantar warts you’ll want something a little more heavy duty), and a good pair of scissors. You’d be surprised how many scissors can’t handle duct tape. :)
    2. I think this method must work a lot better in the winter. When you sweat, the duct tape slips off.
    3. Think it through when you’re attempting this! It’ll take a couple weeks, so don’t plan this so you have to walk down the aisle with duct tape on your neck, or, as my case was, while you’re handing out résumés.
    4. If you only have a small wart you can cover it up with a band-aid and people will ask less questions.
    5. Don’t make the mistake I did and attempt to wrap your whole hand in duct tape to make it stay. Cut a square just big enough to cover the area. Not only does it not look as weird, but it seems to be more effective. You only want to irritate the wart, not your entire epidermis.
    6. Expect to use a lot of duct tape! You obviously won’t use the entire roll, but it’s deceiving to say “If at any time it falls off, another piece is applied.” I read that and thought, “Okay, it might fall off every couple days or something, that’s okay.” No. The duct tape will come off often. Not because it isn’t sticky, but because when it gets wet, as I mentioned, it slips off. Every time you sweat, you have to replace it. Every time you wash your hands, you have to replace it. Every time you go swimming- well, you get the idea. You have to replace the tape multiple times in a day. You will be peeling duct tape off your sheets. Accept it.
    7. To soak the wart before you scrub it off, just take a long bath and tackle the warts afterwards. It’s less awkward than dipping the offending body part in a bucket until it prunes.

    Warts can take as long as two months (those would be the plantar warts) to disappear completely. If you don’t see any change after the first month, however, it’s probably not worth it to continue, because it's unlikely it'll work.

    The best part about the duct tape method is that it’s entirely painless. It worked pretty well for me; the wart on my palm is just barely visible and my other warts have improved a lot. They would probably have been cured completely if I hadn’t given up after a couple weeks (The constant re-applying gets irritating).

    Interestingly, about a week after I had stopped using the duct tape method, the areas I had applied it to began to peel, so be prepared for that, too. I'm not sure why that happens, but it means even longer before that area is flawless.

    My experience seems to correlate with Madigan Army Medical Center's study*, which indicated that using duct tape is 25% more likely to cure warts than freezing them off.

    Overall opinion of this method: if you want effective, pain-free wart removal, this is the way to go. If you want instant results, it’s probably not for you. If you try it yourself, please, msg me and let me know about your results. :)


    *http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2002/10/15/duct_tape021015.html

    Just one more all-natural, sure-fire (or your money back) hippy-dippy wart cure: Aloe Vera. I used the gel; the cheap, nasty kind sold at the drug store next to the sunscreen works, but the pure organic stuff worked better which is to say faster in my extremely unrigorous testing. I suspect bits of the plant would work great, too. I used a band-aid to hold the aloe onto the wart. As recommended by others, a pumice stone towards the end of a long shower will remove the dried-out part of the wart and allow the aloe to penetrate.

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