Warts are growths on the skin triggered by the presence of human papillomavirus. They may appear on the hands or feet, but they sometimes also show up in more delicate locations.
The home remedies we discuss should not be used for warts on the face or the genital area; those require medical attention.
A big part of wart treatment is the patient’s belief in its value. That’s how a few traditional wart treatments work, such as the person who will “buy” your wart from you for a penny.
The old-fashioned mouthwash Listerine is readily available and contains a number of herbal oils with antimicrobial activity. A few of them, such as thymol and turpentine oil, are active against viruses (Phytotherapy Research, May 2010).
We don’t know if that explains why so many people find Listerine helpful in fighting off warts, but we have received many testimonials about its effectiveness.
“I caught a plantar wart from caring for my granddaughter’s feet. Mine was big and painful and I had it frozen off by a doctor, but it did not go away.
“A friend told me she had spent thousands trying to get her plantar wart removed.
“Finally she heard about Listerine, which worked in two weeks.
“Two weeks ago today, I started using Listerine on my plantar wart, and it is 99.9 percent gone! I am now treating my granddaughter’s recurring warts with Listerine.”
Other people find that soaking the affected area in vinegar every day or several times a week can dispatch a wart efficiently. Presumably the acidity of the vinegar makes the skin inhospitable to the virus that triggered the wart.
Enthusiasts differ over whether the vinegar should be white vinegar (the cheapest) or apple cider vinegar, but they agree that most of the time vinegar works.
“My great-aunt kept a diary of old remedies for various afflictions. She advocated distilled white vinegar for wart removal,” one person wrote.
“I decided to try her remedy when I discovered an odd wart on my elbow. I attacked it by soaking my elbow in a pan of vinegar. Like most Americans, I desired a quick fix. My skin seemed pickled and I worried that the surrounding tissue would be eaten away altogether.
“I was about to bail out when I realized that the skin around the wart was merely wrinkled yet undamaged. Only the wart itself was truly affected.
“After two weeks, the wart was destroyed. The virus can’t stand acidity.”
Castor oil, commonly available in pharmacies for oral use as a laxative, is another very popular wart treatment. The ricinoleic acid in castor oil has anti-inflammatory activity, and perhaps that explains why it seems to help.
Or perhaps there is another explanation. Scientists have not spent a lot of time studying home remedies such as castor oil for wart removal.
“Castor oil completely eliminated a wart that I had tried to get rid of for twenty years. It did not even leave a scar.
“I applied the oil on the wart after showering and at bedtime and covered it with a bandage. I kept this up until the wart was gone, maybe two months.”
There is a case report in medical literature of a person who developed a rash as a consequence of contact dermatitis in reaction to castor oil being used as a wart remover (Contact Dermatitis, July 1993).
So those who choose this remedy might want to test a dab first on the inside of the forearm to make sure they do not react badly to it.
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