wart on a finger

Let’s be very clear about this interesting question. No one really knows for sure how people “catch” warts, but it’s NOT from frogs! What doctors do know is that they are caused by a virus called HPV (human papilloma virus). Actually there are over 100 different HPVs. HPV 2 and 7 cause so-called common warts (verruca vulgaris), while HPV 1, 2, 4 and 63 cause plantar warts that grow on the bottom of the foot and can grow inward. This can make walking or running quite painful.

But we digress. How does someone end up with a wart on his elbow or finger or on the sole of the feet? Why are children more susceptible than senior citizens? As many as one-third of school-age kids develop warts. Fortunately, two-thirds of the warts disappear by themselves in about two years for reasons that no one understands.

Some experts have suggested that you get your warts by touching someone else’s wart. Really? How many kids go around asking their friends if they can touch a wart? Not very likely, in our opinion. Let’s face it, warts are pretty gross and no one really wants to rub one if at all possible.

Conventional wisdom has also maintained that children and teenagers somehow pick up warts in public places such as at pools or in locker rooms, where the floors are damp and presumably allow for spread of HPV. Dutch researchers have just put that myth to rest. They published their findings in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Over 1000 children between the ages of 4 and 12 were tracked for a year. They were examined for warts before the study began and again at the end of the trial. Over the course of the year 29 percent of the children developed a wart. Swimming pool use and other public exposure did not seem to lead to warts. If a family member had a wart, though, there was an increased likelihood of a child developing one. This does suggest that the virus is transmissible. The authors recommend that warts should probably be covered with a bandage to try to prevent spread, though there are no data to support this recommendation.

So… what should you do to get rid of warts? Doctors have all sorts of treatments from burning (acid, electrocautery, blistering) to freezing (cryotherapy). They also use lasers to zap warts or immunotherapy that causes an inflammatory reaction. That presumably triggers the immune system to attack the human papilloma virus. Sometimes one of these approaches works, but not infrequently the warts return.

What About Home Remedies for Warts?

Many doctors are not fond of home remedies. That’s because they are rarely tested in a scientific manner. Spunk water, dead cats, new pennies and buried potatoes have clearly not been assessed in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Nevertheless, most dermatologists will admit that magic sometimes does seem to make a wart disappear surprisingly quickly.

One of the greatest science writers of all times was Dr. Lewis Thomas. He was a biologist and a professor of pathology and medicine at Cornell. He was also a president of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Thomas was fascinated by warts. In his book, Lives of a Cell, he wrote:

“Warts are wonderful structures. They can appear overnight on any part of the skin, like mushrooms on a damp lawn, full grown and splendid in the complexity of their architecture. Viewed in stained sections under a microscope, they are the most specialized of cellular arrangements, constructed as though for a purpose…

“And they can be made to go away by something that can only be called thinking… This is a special property of warts that is absolutely astonishing… It is one of the great mystifications of science: Warts can be ordered off the skin by hypnotic suggestion…

“How can a mental event like suggestion produce a specific biological response that targets an isolated structure on the skin? When scientists can answer that question, they will be able to answer many other questions about mind/body interactions.”

We could not agree more. Remember, a wart is caused by a virus and yet the mind can make it disappear almost overnight. If we could figure out how, we might be able to cure an amazing number of other conditions.

For your entertainment and possible practical use, we share a number of wart remedies from our readers and visitors below.

“My six-year-old son had warts on both hands. One Sunday after church an elderly Italian lady told us to use milkweed to get rid of the warts. He applied the milky sap several times a day and before long the warts disappeared. It didn’t cost a penny.”

“I just had to write to you after reading the letter from the mother whose daughter has warts on her hands. My husband had several warts on his left hand. Some were surgically removed and others were treated by the doctor. But most of them came back.

“A friend suggested castor oil, and my husband thought it was worth a try. He put it on a couple times a day and at night under an adhesive strip. In two months they were gone and they have NOT returned!”

“Not long ago I read a letter in your column from a person who had warts on a thumb and could not get rid of them. When our son was in college, he developed two or three warts on one finger, which made it difficult for him to hold a pen and take notes.

“He planned to have them removed at the infirmary, but called home first. His dad recommended he paint them with iodine daily until they disappeared. They were gone in ten days or so and never returned.”

“Furtively taking a raw white potato from the camp kitchen, I waited until after lights out to slice off a thin piece of the spud with my Girl Scout knife. I then rubbed the juice over the surface of the wart. I kept this up for nearly three weeks until the wart shriveled and fell off. Outcome, no wart, no scar, minimum cost (guilty conscience for purloined potato).”

Do you enjoy reading home remedies? Do you think our grandmothers (and grandfathers) had wisdom when it came to healing common ailments? If so, you will love our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Not only do we have lots more wart remedies, but you will find commonsense approaches for almost everything that ails you. Here is a short list of conditions for which we offer affordable treatments:

  • Acne & Rosacea
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis & Joint Pain
  • Body Odor
  • Burns
  • Bursitis
  • Canker Sores
  • Cholesterol
  • Cold Sores
  • Constipation
  • Coughs
  • Dandruff
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Skin
  • Eczema
  • Gas
  • Gout
  • Heartburn
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Hot Flashes
  • IBS Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nail Fungus
  • Psoriasis
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin Tags
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Vertigo & Dizziness
  • and many more!

Here is a link if you would like Quick & Handy Home Remedies or any of our other publications.
Share your own wart remedies below in the comment section. Let us know what worked and what didn’t for you and your family.

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  1. Robert

    I had a wart one time on the side of my thumb on the left hand. I don’t know where it came from, as many people don’t, but I knew I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible. I bought that over-the-counter freeze-off treatment. I used it and it treated part of the normal skin and caused an ugly blister on the side of the wart and the wart was unharmed. I am not certain of what the instructions of this treatment were or how long it said it would be for it to work. I am very impatient. I pierced the blister and drained it and let it heal with some Neosporin.
    I then took some toe nail clippers and started cutting into the wart. It didn’t hurt or bleed as this growth of skin is just that. I cut it down and down below the natural skin level. ( I told you I am impatient!) The “cut” healed to the natural skin level, and NO MORE WART!. This was several years ago, and no wart has returned at that spot or any other place. I have no scar, either.
    I don’t think many people would try this nor, would I recommend for the ordinary person, especially a squeamish child. The wart lasted maybe a week before this “Treatment” and the cut healed in just a few days. As I said before, there was no pain and no blood or piercing of the natural skin; I cut below the skin line because that is where the “heart” of the wart is. I had no inkling that this would be a final solution, but I knew I didn’t want to see it anymore.

  2. Mike use apple cider vinegar

    The wart home remedy that has worked the best for me so far is apple cider vinegar. Just soak a cotton ball with it, place over the wart and keep it on with tape. I do it overnight before I go to sleep and take it off in the morning.

  3. MMG

    I’m over 60 now but when I was very young I got several warts on my hands. When one would appear, my mother would cover the wart and the area around it once a day for three days with clear nail polish. After applying she would blow it dry. After that they would die off very quickly and never return to the same site. I’ve not had any more warts since, probably, 10 years of age.

  4. JT

    Duct tape. I used it on a wart on my hand. Cut a circle of it a bit larger than the size of the wart and press it on. Change it out periodically when it gets “gunky”. My brother, an MD has used this technique on his kids. Make sure to keep the wart covered at all times with the duct tape until the wart is gone. If you want to coat the wart with one of the above recommended solutions, that might speed it along.
    The theory is, you’re starving the wart of oxygen, but who knows?

  5. Leo R. G. 11

    I red about using a banana peel on warts and aginst my better judgement, decised to try it! so help me , it went awy in one week after daily changing on mom’s left middle finger.
    Please include it in list of remedies

  6. C SHORT

    I had a wart on my finger for over a year and used all over the counter remedies. I read on your site about using banana and my wart went within days! Amazing!
    I scrapped the inside out of a banana skin (before they become too ripe) and put it on a plaster and then covered the wart.
    It dropped off within days! I am now doing the same on a verruca and my Podiatrist has reported that it is already 90% better!

  7. Rob

    Following advice from this site, I rubbed my warts with the inside of a banana skin each morning : it worked!! :)

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