In general warts do not require treatment. Treatment for warts is for cosmetic reasons in most cases. However, sometimes the wart may be on the foot and cause pain or may be in an area where it is prone to bleeding. There are many treatments for warts. In most cases, observation may be adequate. However, if the wart is unattractive and if one wants it out, one should try home remedy before going to a physician.
The home therapies include:
Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is available either as a liquid or a plaster. After softening the wart in warm water, the wart is usually trimmed down with a scalpel or razor. Following this the salicyclic acid is ether painted or applied as a plaster. Repeat treatments are generally required. The treatment works in some individuals.
Duct tape: There are various versions of adhesive tape to remove warts. In simple the tape is applied on the wart. When the tape is removed, sometimes the wart comes off with it. the treatment works for some cases. The best results are seen around the fingers of toes.
When the home made remedies do not work, medical therapy is available. The medical procedures used to treat warts include:
Freezing (cryotherapy): Freezing the wart using liquid nitrogen has been used for many years. The doctor applies the liquid nitrogen with a Q tip. The treatment is not painful but has to be repeated often. The freezing kills the wart which eventually sloughs off in a few weeks. The Liquid nitrogen destroys the cells in which the virus lives and the virus can no longer survive in an open environment.
Cantharidin: This substance is derived from the beetle and has been widely used to treat warts. This extremely irritating chemical is placed on the wart and covered with a dressing. The treatment is painless but the blister which results is very painful. The blister raises the wart which can then easily be removed.
Surgery: For those who have a wart in a delicate part of the body, minor surgery many be useful. Local anesthetic is injected and then wart is just cut away. Surgery is not the first choice but only reserved after the above treatments have failed.
Electrodessication: Sometime the wart can be burnt away with a heat probe. The skin is frozen and the electrical probe is applied. It slowly burns the wart away.
Laser: Today we have lasers to treat warts. The heat energy from the laser destroys the wart. Lasers are effective but also expensive
Other medications: Today we have very potent medications to treat warts. These medications (Imiquimod and bleomycin) are only used in the worst cases of warts. The potent creams are applied to the wart. Bleomycin can even be injected into the wart. These medications are expensive and only used for recalcitrant warts.
Home therapy is effective for treatment of warts in some cases. However, no matter what treatment is used, warts will only disappear 60-70% of the time. In all cases of wart treatment, multiple sessions are required. In those individuals in whom the wart causes no problems, it is best to leave it alone.