Treatment of Warts

Warts, which are caused by a virus, are common in both children and adults.  There are many ways of removing them, the most common of which is with the application of liquid nitrogen.  Liquid nitrogen is generally the first line of treatment, but we also treat patients with a liquid called Cantharone, which is often more comfortable for children than is liquid nitrogen.  After treatment there may be some swelling and discomfort; occasionally a blister may develop.  The fluid in the blister may be clear, yellow, or blue-black.  The blister may be left alone, or, if it is uncomfortable, you may use a sterile needle to open it.  It is best to puncture a blister near the base, so that the fluid may drain, and the blister roof remains intact as a cover.  You may cover the blister with a Band-Aid or other dressing if needed.  You may go about your normal activities following treatment of warts.  In a few days, after inflammation or discomfort has lessened, we recommend a few treatments to be done at home, between appointments:

 

  • Rub the wart(s) with a pumice stone after a bath or shower.  This will help to remove the thicker top layers of the wart and speed the treatment.  Pumice stones are available at most pharmacies.  An emery board may be easier to use on small, thin warts.

  • After using a pumice stone, we recommend applying 40% salicylic acid plaster, especially for warts on the feet.  Warts on more sensitive areas, such as facial skin, may be treated with more gentle preparations of salicylic acid (17% salicylic acid, for example.)  Please ask us before using any wart removal medication on the face.  These products are made by several different companies, such as Dr. Scholl’s and can be obtained without prescription in a number of sizes, including small discs and larger patches.  Larger discs are often labeled as treatment for corns and calluses.

  • If the discs are difficult to use during the day, they may be applied overnight and covered with tape, and then removed in the morning.

  • Newest treatment: apply duct tape over the wart and leave on for several days until tape loosens.  Wash, dry, and replace tape.  It may be that simple occlusion is good for treating warts.

  • Hypnosis has also been shown to improve warts.

Heat Treatment for Warts

 

 

As shown in the diagram below, soak your hand or foot in an electric frying pan for 15 to 30 minutes once a day.  There is evidence that heat treatment may help to kill the viruses that cause warts.  Just as our bodies raise our temperature to fight cold and flu viruses, raising skin temperature may damage wart viruses.  Placing the hand or foot in an electric frying pan for 15 to 30 minutes once a day may treat warts on the hands or feet.  Put a wooden block on the bottom of the pan and rest your foot or hand on it.  It is very important not to touch the sides of the pan or you may burn yourself.  Maintain the water at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be monitored with a candy thermometer.  This treatment is NOT recommended for young children.

Jay L. Cohen, M.D 
Medical Dermatology 
781-449-3588