Warts (Nongenital)

Warts are caused by a skin virus. They often appear on the hands or feet. They are harmless and often go away in about 2 to 3 years without treatment. With treatment, they go away in 1 to 3 months.

Home care

There are several methods you can use to treat warts at home.

The overnight treatment:

  1. Soak affected area in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. Make sure to test water beforehand so that it isn't scalding. You should be able to comfortably place the affected area in water.

  2. Trim dead tissue with a pumice stone, emery board, or other tool your healthcare provider has advised, or that you feel comfortable using.

  3. Apply an over-the-counter medicine that has salicylic acid. Cover the wart with an adhesive tape.

  4. Repeat every third night as tolerated until the wart goes away.

The duct tape method:

  • Apply a small piece of duct tape to the wart for 6 days. The tape should cover the entire wart. At the end of the sixth day, remove the tape and soak in warm water. Then scrub the area gently with a pumice stone or emery board. Let the wart stay open to air overnight. Then reapply the duct tape the next morning and follow the same routine. This can be repeated for up to 2 months.

Warts on the hands or feet aren't very contagious. This means they aren't spread to others by ordinary contact. But chewing or picking at the wart can cause it to spread to other places on your own skin.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Let your provider know if the wart doesn't go away after 2 months of the above treatment.

When to get medical advice

Get medical care right away if any of the following occur:

  • A wart appears on the bottom of the foot or on the genitals.

  • There are signs of infection such as fever, redness, swelling, increased pain, or pus.

  • The wart itches, burns, or bleeds.

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