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A typical wart

Warts are small skin growths that are caused by localised infection by the human papiloma virus (HPV). They come in many forms although typically they are uncoloured, 3-10mm in size, with a heavily textured appearance (‘cauliflower like’). They can occur on almost any part of the skin. HPV is transmissible by direct contact, or may be acquired by contact with an infected surface.

Warts may occur in clusters caused by a spreading infection, or may be introduced to new areas following scratching of the wart. Because they are viral in cause, they can be difficult to eradicate. Conventionally they are treated with topical ointments containing salicylic acid (aspirin) such as ‘BazukaTM’ or Seal&HealTM’. Salicylic acid (and also trichloroacetic and lactic acids, which may also be employed) softens and degrades the thickened dead skin surrounding the wart, and eventually destroys the virus, but can be rather slow to work, and does not work in all cases. It is best to abrade the wart with pumice under a running tap before treatment, in order to remove as much thickened skin as possible.

In some cases, medical practitioners may recommend cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), laser treatment or simple surgery. All of these will be painful and may cause localised damage to uninfected tissues. Because these methods do not always destroy all HPV in the vicinity, the wart may return. A better method of physical wart removal, although not as widely available, is electrodesiccation, also known as ‘radio frequency thermal ablation’. This involves a specialised piece of equipment which is used to evaporate infected tissue. When used skilfully, a clean wound results, which heals quickly.

Local injection of antigens such as mumps, candida or trichophytin antigens is a new treatment which is designed to trigger an immune response resulting in destruction of a wart. If successful, the immune response may also cause other skin lesions on the body to disappear. If this treatment is offered, it may be the best option for treatment of warts.

Warts may also be treated by repeated application of raw tea tree oil, in conjuction with vitamin E in the form of ointment, or with neat geranium oil. The oil needs to be allowed to penetrate for as long as possible, preferably until it is no longer visible on the skin surface. Garlic oil and lemon oil in pure form have also been reported to speed up the process when mixed with tea tree oil. Abrading the wart as far as possible with pumice prior to treatment will assist penetration of the oil.

A paste can also be prepared from tea tree oil and ground, dried black walnut husk plus some dried burdock, an immune stimulant. This remedy acts quickly and is extremely effective treatment for most virally induced skin lesions (a commercial preparation is available online under the name Bio-T).


WARNING: A powerful synthetic immunomodulator known as Imiquimod (aka Aldara, Zyclara, Beselna) is sometimes prescribed for topical use on warts and similar skin lesions. Not only is this chemical a known carcinogen in animals, but there is an increasing body of evidence that its use may result in severe, even life-threatening, adverse side effects. If you have been prescribed this drug or are considering purchasing it online, please follow this link to read about the dangers. (This page will remain open in the background).



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