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Common Wart

Sharing (a wart) is not caring

Here at Wellzaa, we admittedly like to unearth nasty potions of animal bits as treatment for X disease to highlight the absurdity of yore and the cumulative progress made. Well, if you’re sick of mentions of turd and bat concoctions, rejoice! This tidbit of common warts will speak nothing of animal, plant, or mineral remedies. Instead, let’s focus on the odd practice of transference as a cure for warts. Many popular ancient cures for warts involve their transference to another person, a plant, or an inanimate object.

It’s understandable why the ancient cultures entertained the concept of transference: Common warts are highly contagious. Today, we know that warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Infection with HPV occurs by direct skin contact, with warts appearing two to six months after exposure. With twists of logic and a pinch of imagination, it’s almost fathomable that one can pass off and leave behind a virus-filled wart sac. Almost. Of course, we know that while viruses can be transmitted, they can not be transferred. Yet one example of direct transference of warts is the suggestion that rubbing warts against a man who is the father of an illegitimate child (when done without his knowledge) speedily removes them. Presumably, this folklore remedy applies only to hand warts, as any attempt to accomplish this with genital warts might be taken the wrong way.  

For the love of person, plant, and object, please do not transmit or transfer the wart

Kids, when it comes to warts, sharing is not caring. And as in the example above, intentional spread of HPV is wrong, teetering on malice. If you spot a wart, make sure it’s covered to prevent the spread to others. 

Transference doesn’t work for wart elimination. Try salicylic acid, freezing, or even duct tape instead.

This is the moment where we pause and say, “what were they thinking!” You can’t just drop off loads of HPV and be done with. You’ve got to burn ‘em (with acid), freeze ‘em (with liquid nitrogen), or snuff ‘em (with uhm, duct tape?). That’s right, below are some modern methods of common wart removal:

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid when applied to the wart removes the affected skin and may also stimulate local immunity. Over the counter wart removal products containing 17% salicylic acid are often applied to common skin warts but higher concentrations of up to 50% salicylic acid are reserved for areas of thick skin such as the soles.


Freezing with liquid nitrogen works by causing a blister to form around the wart. Treatment is repeated every two to three weeks until the dead tissue with virus sloughs off. Freezing with liquid nitrogen is a common doctor administered treatment but liquid nitrogen wart removal products are also available over the counter.

Duct tape

There isn’t definitive proof that using duct tape helps to clear up warts more quickly than leaving them alone. That said, since tape is effective in covering up the wart, wart-bearers can try to MacGyver their way to clear skin with the following:

  • Cut a piece of silver duct tape as close to the size of the wart as possible.

  • Cover the wart with a piece of silver duct tape for 6 days. If the tape falls off, put on a new piece.

  • After 6 days, remove the tape and soak the area in water. Then gently rub the wart surface down with an emery board or pumice stone. Leave the tape off overnight.

  • Repeat this process until the wart is gone, but not longer than 2 months.


Most warts in folks with intact immune systems eventually go away without treatment. Spontaneous remission of warts occurs in two-thirds of children within two years, while spontaneous resolution in adults tends to be slower and may take up to several years or longer. That’s a long period to love oneself, warts and all. In that period, warts may spread or persist. And as resolution is unpredictable, we’d likely resort to burning, freezing, and snuffing ‘em out in the end.


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