How easy is it to remove warts?

Currently, there are no widespread vaccines available which prevent people from getting common warts. The only exception to this rule is a couple of specialized vaccines that have been developed to prevent warts which lead to cervical cancer in women; however, these vaccines have a mixed track record of success. All of today’s common remedies for warts instead aim at treating them after they appear on the body. The most commonly-used method to treat warts involve compounds that have a substance called salicylic acid.

get-rid-of-wartsYou may not have heard of salicylic acid, but you have probably used another very common medicine that contains this chemical. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin, is derived from the common willow tree, and is used in other pain and discomfort-treating medicines. Salicylic acid is a medication classified as a “keratolytic.” This means it dissolves the hard protein (or keratin) that makes up most of the wart and the thick, dead skin surrounding it, too. Once that protein is broken down and the inner surface is exposed, the wart falls off and goes away. Another frequently-used method for wart removal involves “cryotherapy.” This is a fancy word for “freezing.”

Super-cold chemicals, such as liquid nitrogen, are applied to the warts in repeated treatments and they eventually fall off. However, the average person does not have easy access to a substance like liquid nitrogen, so this option for most people is not feasible. Other commonly-used methods involve painting the wart with a substance called cantharidin, which causes a blister to form under the wart and allows the whole thing to be trimmed away in about a week. Alternatively, a physician may opt to cut away the whole wart in a minor outpatient procedure. Finally, a doctor can use electrosurgery and curettage, which involves “burning” the wart and scraping off the skin layers until the entire blemish is removed.