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Warts

Warts are a common abnormal skin growths caused by one of many types of human papilloma virus, which infects the outer layer of skin.

Common warts (verruca vulgaris) can appear on any part of the body but are more common on the fingers, hands, and arms. They are most common in people 30 years old or younger, but can occur at any age and are almost universal in the population. Other types of warts also exist, including flat warts, genital warts, laryngeal papillomas, and others.

 

Rating Nutritional Supplements Herbs
d
Zinc (oral)
Garlic (topical application)
fd

 

Greater celandine
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

 

What are the symptoms of warts?

Appearance and size of warts depend on the location and the amount of irritation and trauma. Common warts are sharply demarcated, rough-surfaced, round or irregular in shape, firm, and either light gray, yellow, brown, or gray-black in color. They are small nodules ranging in size from 2–10 mm in diameter. Plantar warts (on the bottoms of the feet) are flattened and may be exquisitely tender. Flat warts, more common in children and young adults, are smooth, flat-topped yellow-brown elevations, most often seen on the face and along scratch marks. Genital warts (also called condyloma acuminata or venereal warts) are soft, moist, small pink or gray polyps that enlarge and are usually found in clusters on the anus and the warmer, moister areas of the female and male genitalia. Genital warts caused by HPV are considered a major cause of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. All warts are contagious.

Dietary changes that may be helpful for warts

A preliminary study reported that the weekly consumption of two to four alcoholic drinks nearly doubled the risk of developing genital warts.1 Those who consumed more than five alcoholic drinks had a more than doubled risk of developing genital warts. A case report of a 19-year-old with a urinary-tract wart found that abstinence from a high intake of pork led to a regression of the wart.2

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful for warts

Warts can be spread by contact, and the transmission can occur between two people as well as between different parts of the body of the same person. To prevent the spread of the virus, warts should not be scratched. Genital warts are spread by sexual contact.

A study of HIV-infected and HIV-negative women found that current smokers were over five times more likely to develop genital warts than nonsmokers.3

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for warts

In a double-blind study, supplementation with oral zinc, in the form of zinc sulfate, for two months resulted in complete disappearance of warts in 87% of people treated, whereas none of those receiving a placebo improved.4 The amount of zinc used was based on body weight, with a maximum of 135 mg per day. These large amounts of zinc should be used under the supervision of a doctor. Side effects included nausea, vomiting, and mild abdominal pain.

Are there any side effects or interactions with warts?

Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful for warts

In a preliminary trial, topical application of garlic cloves was used successfully to treat warts in a group of children. A clove was cut in half each night and the flat edge of the clove was rubbed onto each of the warts, carefully cleaning the surrounding areas, so as not to spread any garlic juice. The areas were covered overnight with Band-Aids or waterproof tape and were washed in the morning. In all cases, the warts cleared completely after an average of nine weeks.5

Herbalists have sometimes recommended the use of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) for the topical treatment of warts.6 The milky juice from the fresh plant is typically applied to the wart once daily and allowed to dry.

Are there any side effects or interactions with warts?

Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.

Holistic approaches that may be helpful for warts

Distant healing is a conscious, dedicated act of mental activity that attempts to benefit another person’s physical or emotional well-being at a distance. A controlled study found that distant healing by an experienced healer for six weeks had no effect on the number or size of warts.7

A controlled study found that the application of 122ºF heat from a heat pad for 30 seconds led to regression in 25 warts.8 After 15 weeks, none of the regressed warts had regrown.

Hypnosis is a widely recognized treatment for warts. One controlled trial found that twice-weekly hypnosis sessions resulted in greater wart disappearance than did medication, placebo, or no treatment after six weeks of therapy.9

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