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What to do when you get a wart

Finger with bandage.

Dec. 5, 2022—Got a wart you want to get rid of? Here's good news: Warts are treatable—sometimes with and sometimes without a doctor's help.

Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Some of the most common warts appear on the hands and fingers and are often flesh-colored and rough to the touch.

Warts can often be treated at home. However, the American Academy of Dermatology(AAD) warns that other skin issues—including some skin cancers—can sometimes be mistaken for warts. That's why it's a good idea to check with a doctor if you have any doubts.

The AAD and the American Academy of Family Physicians say you should see a doctor before treating a wart if:

  • You suspect a growth may not really be a wart.
  • You have a wart on your face or genitals.
  • You have diabetes—trying home treatment for a wart could put you at risk for nerve damage.
  • You have many warts.
  • You have a wart that hurts, itches or bleeds.
  • You have a weakened immune system.

Treating a wart yourself

Many warts go away on their own. But if you have a wart that you want to get rid of, your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter treatment called salicylic acid. You apply this medicine to the wart every day for several weeks.

While you're treating the wart, you'll also want to avoid spreading the virus that caused the wart to other areas of your body or to other people by:

You may have heard of other home remedies for warts—like using duct tape to peel away the wart. These may not work. It's best to check with your doctor before trying any home remedy to remove a wart.

How a doctor can help with warts

If OTC treatments aren't working (or if you have a wart that you should not treat yourself), your doctor can suggest other treatments. For instance, your doctor can remove some warts by freezing, burning, scraping, cutting or clipping them off.

Sources

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