Unfortunately due to the demand upon our Practice Nurse for Chronic Health Review Appointments, we are no longer able to continue providing the Wart Clinic service. The following information may be of interest :
Warts and verrucas
Treating warts and verrucas
Warts usually clear up without treatment. However, it can sometimes take up to two years for the HPV virus to leave your system and for warts to disappear.
The length of time it takes for a wart to disappear will vary from person to person. They tend to last longer in older children and adults.
In adults and people with a weakened immune system, warts are less likely to clear up on their own or respond well to treatment.
Leaving the wart to get better by itself is one option. However, you may want to consider treatment if your wart is painful, in an awkward position, or is causing you distress or embarrassment.
There are a number of treatments available for warts. However, no single treatment is 100% effective, and sometimes the wart may return.
The aim of treatment is to remove the wart without it returning and without leaving any scarring.
- salicylic acid
- duct tape
- chemical treatments
Surgery to treat warts is not usually recommended because warts often return and further treatment is required.
Some treatments may cause side effects such as mild pain, blistering and skin irritation around the wart.
These various treatments are described below.
Many treatments, such as creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters, are available over-the-counter from pharmacies.
Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in most of these treatments. In two-thirds of cases, research has shown that hand warts clear up within 12 weeks of treatment with salicylic acid.
There is limited evidence available to show which type of salicylic acid treatment (ointment, cream or gel) is most effective. However, it has been shown that salicylic acid is effective at treating warts.
Salicylic acid and other wart treatments also destroy healthy skin, so it is important to protect your skin before applying the treatment. You can use petroleum jelly or a corn plaster to cover the skin around the wart.
Before applying the treatment to your wart, use a rough surface, such as an emery board or pumice stone, to get rid of any excess skin around the affected area (avoid sharing the pumice stone with others). Soak the wart in water for about five minutes to soften the skin.
After soaking your wart, follow the instructions that come with the medication. You may need to apply the treatment daily for 12 weeks or longer. You should stop the treatment if your skin becomes sore and seek advice from your GP or pharmacist.
Do not use treatments that contain salicylic acid to treat warts on your face. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice about the best type of treatment.
Also consult your GP before using over-the-counter treatments that contain salicylic acid if you have poor circulation – for example, if you have a condition such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease. This is because there is an increased risk of damage to your skin, nerves and tendons.
Treatment with duct tape involves placing a piece of duct tape over your wart for about six days. If the tape falls off, simply replace it with a fresh piece. After six days, remove the tape and soak the wart in water.
After soaking the wart, use an emery board or pumice stone to get rid of any rough areas. Leave the wart uncovered over night and apply a new piece of duct tape the following morning. This procedure should be repeated for a period of up to two months.
There is limited evidence to support the effectiveness of using duct tape to treat warts. However, side effects of this type of treatment are rare, although in some cases skin irritation may occur.
Warts can also be treated using chemical treatments available on prescription. The treatments contain chemicals such as:
These chemicals are dabbed on the warts to kill affected skin cells.
Potential side effects of chemical treatments include:
- staining the skin brown (with glutaraldehyde)
- intense swelling (with podophyllin)
- infection following treatment (with podophyllin)
Treating warts during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and have warts, your GP may recommend using salicylic acid, cryotherapy or duct tape.
Salicylic acid can be used to treat warts during pregnancy as long as it is used on a small area for a limited period of time.
If you or your child has a wart or verruca, going swimming is fine as long as you take steps to prevent the spread of infection.
You can put a waterproof plaster over the wart or verruca. Special rubber verruca socks are also available from pharmacies and offer a more practical solution.
Wearing pool slippers or flip-flops around swimming pools and in communal changing areas will also help reduce the risk of getting verrucas or passing them on to others.
NHS Choices puts you in control of your healthcare
The NHS Choices has been developed to help you make choices about your health, from lifestyle decisions about things like smoking, drinking and exercise, through to the practical aspects of finding and using NHS services when you need them.