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Warts are small, hard, round skin growths caused primarily by a virus. The preferred way to remove warts is to visit a dermatologist for professional treatments, but many people cannot afford that level of treatment. There are several different methods to remove warts yourself, but be aware that proper removal can take several years and the warts could return at any time. If the warts are not particularly painful or disfiguring, then leaving them alone might be the safest course of action for some.
Since warts are caused by a virus, there is no way that many over-the-counter topical medications can remove them safely. Hydrogen peroxide, mecurochrome, Bactine, alcohol, or hydrocortisone may make the area around the warts less itchy or inflamed, but none of these products will remove warts. The best over-the-counter medications are specifically marketed for that purpose. One common active ingredient is concentrated salicylic acid, applied by drops to the affected area. This medication removes the warts gradually, with minimal skin damage. The main drawback is the length of treatment time - several applications of salicylic acid must be made over days or even weeks.
In recent years, a second over-the-counter treatment has become popular. Dermatologists often remove warts by using cryogenics, meaning the wart and surrounding area are frozen chemically. After one or two treatments, the warts should simply fall off as dead skin tissue. Now consumers can remove their warts themselves with non-prescription versions of the freezing agents.
To remove warts at home, the patient uses an aerosol can to deliver the freezing chemicals directly to the raised area. The chemicals cause the warts to freeze solid and eventually fall off. The main drawback of this method is the initial expense. One application can cost 20 US dollars (USD) or more, depending on the brand and quality of ingredients.
Many folk remedies have not been proven to be effective, but one homemade method has actually shown promise in some informal tests. Apparently, patients who filed off the layers of dead skin and covered the exposed areas with duct tape showed significant improvement. The effect is gradual, taking a few weeks on average, but a duct tape bandage seems to reduce the time needed to remove warts naturally.
If none of these over-the-counter medications seem to work, an appointment with a dermatologist may become necessary. Dermatologists remove warts by the use of prescription-level acids, cryogenic freezing, cauterization - burning with heat - or lasers. By no means should anyone use potentially dangerous methods such as razor blades, hot needles or commercial acids to remove their warts at home.