Warts are fairly common skin growths that affect people of all ages. Bumpy, hard, and rough, they are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, even if the person in question isn’t currently showing any symptoms. Once contracted, HPV can remain dormant in your body for years before being activated.
Non-genital HPV warts typically appear on your fingers, hands, feet, and face. Although usually harmless, warts can be very unseemly and even cause pain while walking if they pop up on your feet. While most warts tend to disappear on their own, the process can take a while to complete. At the same time, they can act like “mother warts” and give birth to multiple smaller warts in the surrounding area of the skin.
To prevent these complications, it is important to know how to get rid of a wart fast and safely.
What Types of Warts Are There?
Based on their location and appearance, there are seven types of non-genital HPV warts. To remove them safely while avoiding any complications, you need to be able to identify them.
1. Common Warts
Common warts are by far the most prevalent. They are typically found on the back of your hands as well as your fingers. Scaly and hard to the touch, they vary in size and color. Common warts are often characterized by a pattern of tiny black dots on its surface, which represents tiny, clotted blood vessels.
2. Butchers’ Warts
Butcher’s warts are very similar to common warts. Historically, they were most commonly found in butchers and other professionals who handled meat and/or fish at work, which is how they got their name. Today, butcher’s warts affect anywhere between 8.5% and 24% of meat-handling professionals.
3. Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are also similar to common warts, with the only difference being that they appear on the bottom of the feet. These warts manifest themselves as flat, circular surfaces with a small dent in the middle. They are typically crusted with a black dot in the middle. Also known as veruccae warts, they cause severe pain, especially when you’re walking or putting pressure on the affected foot.
4. Palmar Warts
Most warts are contagious, but they can also spread to other parts of your body if you pick at them. Palmar warts are an example of this, as they often appear when you constantly pick at the plantar warts on your feet. Commonly affecting the palm of your hand, they are normally flesh-colored and pea-sized.
5. Flat Warts
Flat warts most commonly appear on the face, but they can also appear on the back of your hands, as well as the lower part of your arms. Very small and smooth to the touch, these warts usually appear in thick clusters. They are most often flesh-colored, though they also often appear as pink and light brown.
6. Filiform Warts
Filiform warts are unlike any other type of wart. They resemble a tiny spike that extends from your skin. You will most often find filiform warts on your face, especially around the eyes, nose, or mouth. When they affect the eyes, filiform warts typically “hang” from the eyelid, which can cause some discomfort.
7. Periungual/Subungual Warts
Periungual and subungual warts affect the skin around the fingernails – the former appear around the fingernails, while the latter occur underneath them. Like most other warts, periungual and subungual warts start small, only to increase in size over time. They can affect anyone but are more common in people who bite their nails. If they progress, these warts can cause fungal infections.
How to Get Rid of a Wart Fast: The 5 Best Natural Remedies
Most warts don’t require medical attention and can be safely treated at home. If you’re looking for tips on how to get rid of a wart fast and safely at home, one of the following five natural remedies may be just what you need.
1. Salicylic Acid
Not only is salicylic acid the most commonly used home remedy for warts but it’s also the most effective. According to a 2011 study, home treatment with salicylic acid is as effective as cryotherapy. Salicylic acid is fairly cheap and doesn’t cause any major side effects. You just have to determine the right strength of salicylic acid to use, but your doctor or your pharmacist can help you with that.
To remove a wart with salicylic acid, soak your wart in warm water for about 10 minutes and then use a nail file to gently remove the dead skin on top of the wart. After that, simply apply the acid according to the instructions on the package. Keep in mind that it may take weeks to get rid of the wart.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can also be used to treat non-genital HPV warts. Combine apple cider vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio, soak a cotton ball in the mixture, and apply it directly to the wart. Secure the cotton ball with bandage or tape and leave it overnight. Repeat this every night until you see the desired results.
3. Garlic Extract
Garlic is known for its strong antiviral properties, which is why it is often used to assist in the removal of warts. Simply crush one clove of garlic, apply it to the wart, and secure it with a bandage. Leave it for no more than 24 hours before removing the old clove and applying a new one. To speed up the results, you can also use a pumice stone between two applications to remove dead skin from the wart.
4. Lemon Juice
A 2007 study conducted in India found that lemon juice is as effective at treating warts as some popular topical creams. To reduce the acidity of lemon juice, you should always dilute it with water before application. For optimal results, mix two parts lemon juice with one part water, apply it to the water using a cotton ball, and leave it overnight. Repeat every night until the wart falls off.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Although scientists are yet to test the effectiveness of tea tree oil against HPV, this potent home remedy is known for its strong antiviral properties. You can apply tea tree oil directly to the wart without diluting it first. Simply soak a cotton ball with a few drops, apply it to the wart, and hold it there for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process twice a day until the wart has fallen off completely.
The Duct Tape Method
If you’d rather not use any acids, oils, or juices to remove your wart, you can try to get rid of it using duct tape. Just take a piece of duct tape, cover the wart with it, and wait for six days before removing it. As soon as you remove the tape, soak the wart in water for 20 minutes, and then use a pumice stone to scrape off dead skin. Leave the wart uncovered for 24 hours and then repeat the process.
If you opt to remove your wart using duct tape, you need to be patient. It can take between a few weeks and two months to achieve the desired results. Track your progress every time you remove the tape. If you notice anything unusual or if the wart seems to be getting worse, you should talk to your doctor.
These home remedies are suitable for warts that affect your hands, fingers, and feet. Some of them, like salicylic acid, should never be used on your face as the skin that covers the area is very sensitive and more prone to chemical burns. Even if you opt for some other home remedy that’s better suited for facial warts, you should have the wart examined by your doctor beforehand to avoid complications.
If the wart you want to remove is close to your eye or your nose, you shouldn’t try to get rid of it at home. Instead, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to have it safely removed.