Warts can affect almost anyone. For reasons that are not clear children seem especially susceptible. But adults can also develop warts. Sometimes a single wart on the sole of the foot multiplies and turns into what is called a mosaic wart (see photo). Getting rid of a wart like this can be challenging, as this reader relates:
Q. I’m 38. I have a plantar wart that turned into a mosaic wart.
This was very painful to walk on, so I went to the podiatrist. He prescribed Aldara, which only caused the warts to spread. We tried freezing and cutting the warts off without success.
Then I started taking Tagamet (OTC) twice a day. I’ve done this for three weeks, filing the dead skin away a few times a week. As of today the mosaic wart is almost gone!
I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to get rid of a wart. Who knew Tagamet would work so well?
Studies Are Mixed on Taking Cimetidine to Get Rid of a Wart:
A. Dermatologists started using cimetidine (Tagamet) for resistant warts back in the early 1990s, when Tagamet was available only by prescription. There were many skeptics. One termed this treatment to get rid of a wart “snake oil for the 21st century” (Archives of Dermatology, Dec., 1998).
There are many case reports in the medical literature of success treating warts with cimetidine, but the few placebo-controlled trials that have been done are not encouraging (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, July, 1999).
Presumably, cimetidine and imiquimod (Aldara) both work by stimulating the immune system to reject the wart (Indian Dermatology Online Journal, Sep-Oct., 2016). The difference is that Aldara is an expensive topical treatment for skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). Side effects can include burning, pain, redness, swelling, itching and peeling skin. Some people also report dizziness, headache, diarrhea, indigestion and flu-like symptoms.
War Stories About Warts:
Readers of our newspaper column have reported some pretty amazing wart stories. It never fails to amaze us what people will do to get rid of a wart:
DWD cautions not to try his dumb trick:
“As a kid I remember hearing about people who could ‘talk’ warts off or to use stump water collected from a hollow stump at midnight. I never had any so I never found out if it worked or not.
“Later in college and after, I had success with Compound W.
“The stupidest thing I ever did was pull one off. NEVER DO THIS! Especially without medical supervision like I did. It was on my arm and dragged on shirt sleeves. I soused it with alcohol. I cut around the base with the clippers, grabbed the darn thing and twisted and pulled. The wart came off. It make a crater that looked deep but was probably only 1/8 inch but it bled a copious amount of blood for what seemed like forever (but was probably was only 15 minutes).
“I applied a large piece of gauze and taped it down. It was tender for a day or so, but the wart never came back, but I NEVER tried that remedy again.
“I guess about that time we found The People’s Pharmacy in the newspaper and used the duct tape remedy after that.
“Later I had one plantar’s wart removed by a podiatrist that never came back. Gimping around on one foot was uncomfortable for a week or so.”
MEK discovered Tagamet on her own:
“I suddenly began to get flat white warts on my forehead and legs, I’ve had these for several months.
“I began having problems with stomach acid a few weeks ago and began taking Tagamet in its regular dose for acid suppression. Within a few days the warts began to get smaller; some of the little ones disappeared altogether. I doubled the dose and now the warts are completely gone. It took about a month for them all to disappear.”
M.N. offers another serendipity reaction:
“Many years ago, when these heartburn drugs first came out, my husband was taking one of them on a continuing basis. I noticed the life-long warts on his hands had vanished, and they have never come back. It was later I had read somewhere that this drug might have been the cure.”
Be Wary of Interactions:
People using this approach should check in with their pharmacists about potential interactions with other drugs they may be taking. Cimetidine does not combine well with certain other medicines.
Not everyone with hard-to-treat warts will respond to Tagamet. It has been our experience that certain remedies work great for some people but not for others. Of course that is true about medications as well. Anyone who would like to learn more about a variety of other remedies to get rid of warts may find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies worthwhile.