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.
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: