About This Condition
Turn up the heat
Apply a heating pad set to 122°F (50°C) for 30 seconds at a time, one to four times, to regress common warts and prevent regrowth
If you have warts of any kind, avoid scratching them; if you have genital warts, limit sexual contact with others and see a healthcare professional
About This Condition
Warts are common abnormal skin growths caused by one of many types of human papilloma virus, which infects the outer layer of skin.
Common warts (verruca vulgaris) can appear on any part of the body but are more common on the fingers, hands, and arms. They are most common in people 30 years old or younger, but can occur at any age and are almost universal in the population. Other types of warts also exist, including flat warts, genital warts, laryngeal papillomas, and others.
Appearance and size of warts depend on the location and the amount of irritation and trauma. Common warts are sharply demarcated, rough-surfaced, round or irregular in shape, firm, and either light gray, yellow, brown, or gray-black in color. They are small nodules ranging in size from 2–10 mm in diameter. Plantar warts (on the bottoms of the feet) are flattened and may be exquisitely tender. Flat warts, more common in children and young adults, are smooth, flat-topped yellow-brown elevations, most often seen on the face and along scratch marks. Genital warts (also called condyloma acuminata or venereal warts) are soft, moist, small pink or gray polyps that enlarge and are usually found in clusters on the anus and the warmer, moister areas of the female and male genitalia. Genital warts caused by HPV are considered a major cause of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. All warts are contagious.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Warts can be spread by contact, and the transmission can occur between two people as well as between different parts of the body of the same person. To prevent the spread of the virus, warts should not be scratched. Genital warts are spread by sexual contact.
A study of HIV -infected and HIV-negative women found that current smokers were over five times more likely to develop genital warts than nonsmokers.1
Distant healing is a conscious, dedicated act of mental activity that attempts to benefit another person’s physical or emotional well-being at a distance. A controlled study found that distant healing by an experienced healer for six weeks had no effect on the number or size of warts.2
A controlled study found that the application of 122ºF heat from a heat pad for 30 seconds led to regression in 25 warts.3 After 15 weeks, none of the regressed warts had regrown.
Hypnosis is a widely recognized treatment for warts. One controlled trial found that twice-weekly hypnosis sessions resulted in greater wart disappearance than did medication, placebo, or no treatment after six weeks of therapy.4
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
|Cut back on alcohol||
A preliminary study reported that drinking two to four alcoholic drinks per week nearly doubled the risk of developing genital warts.
A preliminary study reported that the weekly consumption of two to four alcoholic drinks nearly doubled the risk of developing genital warts.5 Those who consumed more than five alcoholic drinks had a more than doubled risk of developing genital warts. A case report of a 19-year-old with a urinary-tract wart found that abstinence from a high intake of pork led to a regression of the wart.6
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Rub cut clove onto area nightly and cover until morning, or apply oil-soluble extract twice per day
In a preliminary trial, topical application of garlic cloves was used successfully to treat warts in a group of children. A clove was cut in half each night and the flat edge of the clove was rubbed onto each of the warts, carefully cleaning the surrounding areas, so as not to spread any garlic juice. The areas were covered overnight with Band-Aids or waterproof tape and were washed in the morning. In all cases, the warts cleared completely after an average of nine weeks.7 In another study, 23 people with warts applied an oil-soluble garlic extract twice a day to the warts. Complete recovery was seen in every case after one to two weeks. A water-soluble garlic extract was less effective.8 Side effects after application of the oil-soluble extract included blistering, redness, burning, and increased pigmentation of the skin around the application area, which usually disappeared completely in one to two weeks. Zinc oxide ointment was applied to the surrounding normal skin in all cases in an attempt to prevent these side effects.
Take under medical supervision: 2.25 mg per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) body weight, up to 135 mg per day
In a double-blind study, supplementation with oral zinc , in the form of zinc sulfate, for two months resulted in complete disappearance of warts in 87% of people treated, whereas none of those receiving a placebo improved.9 The amount of zinc used was based on body weight, with a maximum of 135 mg per day. Similar results were seen in another double-blind study.10 These large amounts of zinc should be used under the supervision of a doctor. Side effects included nausea, vomiting, and mild abdominal pain.
Refer to label instructions
Herbalists have sometimes recommended the use of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) for the topical treatment of warts.11 The milky juice from the fresh plant is typically applied to the wart once daily and allowed to dry.
1. Feldman JG, Chirgwin K, Dehovitz JA, Minkoff H. The association of smoking and risk of condyloma acuminatum in women. Ostet Gynecol 1997;89:346–50.
2. Harkness EF, Abbot NC, Ernst E. A randomized trial of distant healing for skin warts. Am J Med 2000;108:448–52.
3. Stern P, Levine N. Controlled localized heat therapy in cutaneous warts. Archives of Dermatology 1992;128:945–8.
4. Spanes NP, Williams V, Gwynn MI. Effects of hypnotic, placebo, and salicylic acid treatments on wart progression. Psychosom Med 1990;52:109–14.
5. Bairati I, Sherman KJ, McKnight B, et al. Diet and genital warts: a case-control study. Sex Transm Dis 1994;21:149–54.
6. Schneider A, Morabia A, Papendick U, Kirchmayr R. Pork intake and human papillomavirus-related disease. Nutr Cancer 1990;13:209–11.
7. Silverberg N. Garlic cloves for verruca vulgaris. Pediatr Dermatol 2002;19:183. [Letter]
8. Dehghani F, Merat A, Panjehshahin MR, Handjani F. Healing effect of garlic extract on warts and corns. Int J Dermatol2005;44:612–5.
9. Al-Gurairi FT, Al-Waiz M, Sharquie KE. Oral zinc sulphate in the treatment of recalcitrant viral warts: randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Br J Dermatol 2002;146:423–31.
10. Yaghoobi R, Sadighha A, Baktash D. Evaluation of oral zinc sulfate effect on recalcitrant multiple viral warts: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:706–8.
11. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 337.
Last Review: 10-16-2013
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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