Home / General / What is a Wart? Why and How Does it Form? How is it Treated?

What is a Wart? Why and How Does it Form? How is it Treated?

A wart is a condition caused by a virus that infiltrates the layers of the skin. It is formed by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus, which is transmitted through contact, can spread to all areas covered by the skin and mucous membranes, such as the mouth, anus, and vagina.

Warts are referred to by different names based on their location:

  • Those on the hands are called verruca vulgaris.
  • Those on the feet are called verruca plantaris.
  • Those on the face are called verruca facialis.
  • Those on the genital organs and anus are referred to as condyloma acuminata.

Why Do Warts Occur and How Can They Be Removed?

The sole cause of formation is contact, meaning the transmission of the virus through touch. In the past, there used to be a completely incorrect belief among the public, such as “you’ve touched a frog, and that’s how it got transmitted.” However, this virus only causes disease in humans, does not transmit to any other living being, and does not transmit from any other living being to humans; the only way is to acquire it from another infected individual.

When directly touching a person with warts through actions like shaking hands, kissing, or engaging in sexual intercourse, the virus can transfer to the healthy person’s skin and proliferate there.

It can also be transmitted from another infected person. After transmission, it continues to spread from the person to themselves. For instance, if someone with warts on their finger scratches their face or head, they can spread the virus to those areas as well.

Similarly, if warts are present in a shaved area, they can spread to the surrounding skin through the use of a razor. The microtrauma caused by the razor facilitates faster transmission and spread.

How to Get Rid of Warts, What Helps?

It may rarely resolve spontaneously, depending on the individual’s immune system. Even if it is transmitted to a person with a strong immune system, it may not cause the disease, or if the disease occurs, it may self-resolve.

If warts persist without improvement and new ones appear, a treatment plan should be considered; otherwise, it can spread to other areas of the body and to people in close proximity.

The following non-harmful practices can be tried initially, as they might be beneficial:

  • Reciting prayers or having someone read prayers for the wart.
  • Applying fig milk.
  • Applying apple cider vinegar or other types of vinegar.

However, applying acids that can cause serious injuries and burns or using acids sold as herbal remedies is never recommended. This is because it can lead to persistent and difficult-to-heal burns and result in cosmetically undesirable scarring.

Definitive Treatments:

If methods like reciting prayers, having prayers read, or applying fig milk do not lead to resolution within two weeks, more effective methods by a specialized doctor should be employed. These methods, listed from the most successful to less successful, include:

  • Radiofrequency vaporization
  • Cauterization with electrocautery
  • Surgical excision
  • Laser therapy
  • Cryotherapy (freezing treatments)

All these methods are definitive treatments with proven results.

How to Remove Wart Roots?

The human skin consists of seven layers, with the topmost layer being the dead layer that continuously sheds and regenerates. The wart virus can settle in the top three layers of these, and if left untreated for many years, it may reach deeper layers but without forming roots.

The only exception to this is plantar warts on the soles of the feet. Due to their location in the weight-bearing region, they may penetrate a bit deeper into the skin layers. Consequently, they may resemble corns, but they are a distinct condition.

Even though plantar warts can go somewhat deeper, they still do not have roots. In wart treatment, there is no concept of removing roots; removing the wart-laden layer is sufficient.

Do Wart Medications Eliminate Warts?

The answer is both yes and no. Depending on the advancement of certain warts, some cannot be eradicated with medication. In certain areas (vagina, anus, oral cavity, throat), medication cannot be applied, and if applied, it can cause severe burns. In some areas (thick-skinned areas like the soles of the feet), medication has no effect.

Regarding medications, the following information should be considered:

Veregen, Veregreen, Kondilex all contain the same substance. They contain 15% catechin. Catechin is an antiviral substance obtained by purifying from green tea and is the most effective substance used in wart treatment. It treats early-stage warts in the anus, external genital organs, and other areas of the body. However, it may be insufficient for advanced warts, but it prevents their recurrence after more effective treatments.

Catechin purified from green tea (polyphenol E) alone achieves complete recovery at a level of 56% in very early-stage cases.

Aldara is applied to intact skin and can be beneficial in the early-stage treatment of warts, but it can be very painful, especially in the anal and vaginal areas.

Verrutol is chemically caustic and is dissolved chemically with the burning power of acid. It should be well protected with substances creating a layer like Vaseline, as it can cause severe chemical burns on the skin.

Herbal remedies: Some unscrupulous individuals sell liquids as herbal without even notifying the Ministry of Health. These liquids sold under the name of herbal contain acid with a potent burning effect. It is strongly advised to stay away from these products without the approval of the Ministry of Health.

What Are the Best Methods for Wart Treatment?

The most effective method is vaporization with radiofrequency (2). Excellent results can be achieved in experienced hands.

Interventions are carried out in layers as thin as a quarter of a millimeter, making it highly unlikely for anything to be overlooked or left behind. Since minimal lateral thermal damage occurs on the sides, the resulting scars are minimal.

The fastest healing occurs after radiofrequency treatment due to the extremely detailed vaporization during the procedure.

If radiofrequency treatment is not available or there are no clinics or doctors practicing this method in the city, the following options can be considered:

Cauterization with a Cautery (4), burning is done with an instrument called an electrocautery in a scraping manner.

Laser Ablation (5), burned with a burning light called carbon dioxide laser, as the burning depth of light cannot be controlled like radiofrequency, deep burns may occur.

Surgery, an old method that has been largely abandoned today, involves cutting out, stitching, or leaving open.

Cryotherapy (6), freezing is done by spraying liquid nitrogen gas onto the area for about 10 seconds, with a success rate of around 40%. It is mostly used on-the-spot in dermatology clinics.

Wart treatment with a plasma pen is one of the least successful methods, mostly applied by individuals without medical training, such as beauty salons, where other methods are prohibited.

Is Every Wart Caused by HPV?

Yes, HPV must be present for warts to form. This virus, called human papillomavirus, has more than 230 types, and different types can cause warts in different areas and with different structures (elevated, flat, skin-colored, brown, etc.). Despite different appearances and types, the common cause for all is the HPV virus.

How Is a Wart on the Tongue Treated?

The tongue is covered with a structure called mucosa. Like all areas that cover the body, warts can also develop on the tongue. The biggest drawback of the tongue in this sense is its moisture. Warts spread more quickly in a humid environment, hence they should be treated without delay.

Another issue related to the tongue is the virus mixed with saliva, which can spread to the background areas such as the throat and pharynx.

Treatment is performed with radiofrequency, and when healing is complete, there may be an almost imperceptible scar on the tongue.

Can You Take a Bath After Wart Burning?

Approaches of clinics and doctors may vary. At Idea Clinic, we recommend our patients to take a bath the next day, although we may have different recommendations in special cases. Generally, we say that there is no harm in taking a bath the next day.

Regardless of the treated area, we recommend washing the treated area after the bath and applying a thin layer of Kutalin Cream.

Kutalin Cream prevents inflammation, accelerates healing, reduces the likelihood of scarring and brown spot formation. Most importantly, it prevents the emergence of new warts due to the antiviral chlorhexidine digluconate in its content.

After the treatment of genital and anal warts, one of the drugs called Veregen, Veregreen, or Kondilex should be used.

Can Warts Be Treated with Duct Tape, How Is It Done?

Although it may seem like an absurd treatment at first glance, it is a treatment method that has been studied extensively and proven to be effective. Although not as successful as radiofrequency, it has been proven to be much more successful than cryotherapy or freezing (7).

It is an extremely economical, easy-to-implement, and harmless treatment method with a higher success rate compared to other simple treatments. It should be applied to suitable patients.

How to Apply Duct Tape to a Wart?

It is an extremely easy treatment method that can be applied comfortably at home. Ordinary duct tape is obtained (preferably with good adhesion as adhesion quality varies), the tape is cut to a diameter approximately 2-3 times the diameter of the wart, and it is stuck on it. The tape should remain attached for 6 days unless it comes off on its own. On the 6th day, the tape should be removed, shaved with a pumice stone or nail file, washed, dried, and a new tape should be applied. Each applied tape should stay for 6 days, and if it comes off on its own, a new tape should be applied as soon as noticed.

This process is carried out for 2 months; for healed warts, there is no need for further tape application. If they have not completely disappeared in 2 months, other methods should be considered.

The effect of this method, called occlusion with duct tape, is accepted to increase immunity by causing irritation in the region and treating it in this way.

Does the HPV Vaccine Eliminate Warts?

The HPV vaccine provides protection against the most prominent 9 types of the over 230 HPV viruses worldwide. Cervarix protects against two types, Gardasil 4 against four types, and Gardasil 9 against nine types. The protection against the types in Cervarix and Gardasil is also present in Gardasil 9, meaning that when Gardasil 9 is administered, protection against risky types is ensured. This risk is more relevant to genital warts. As other types are more common in areas like the face and hands, the vaccine is considered less meaningful for those outside of genital, anal, throat, and mouth areas.

The vaccine may enhance the overall immune system, potentially increasing the success of other treatments, but the vaccine alone does not have a place in the treatment.

The World Health Organization recommends administering the vaccine to girls aged 9 or older but younger than 25 to protect them from cervical cancer. With such a recommendation, getting vaccinated, using the appearance of warts on the body as a pretext, would be a wise approach. In recent years, the view that it is also correct to administer the vaccine to boys to prevent transmission to women is becoming increasingly widespread.

Can Herbal Treatment Cure Warts?

When talking about herbal treatment, it’s crucial not to make mistakes. For example, fig milk is a well-known and can be quite effective in the early stages. Careful use of apple cider vinegar or other vinegars is also possible. When applying herbal treatment at home, results are expected within two weeks. If no results are achieved within two weeks, more effective methods should be used to prevent further spread and transmission to others in the environment.

When it comes to herbal treatment, the most critical aspect to be cautious about is the danger posed by products sold under the name ‘herbal’ in the market. Some individuals without any education in this field create a semblance of having discovered a special herbal formula, bottling and selling corrosive acid as if it were a herbal remedy. Stay away from such products.

Do not use any product that is not approved by the Ministry of Health, or you may compromise your health. Especially in the case of child warts, do not use products whose effectiveness has not been scientifically proven.

Treatment with duct tape is one of the methods that can be tried at home.

Note: Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on medical matters.


1- Stockfleth, E., & Meyer, T. (2012). The use of sinecatechins (polyphenon E) ointment for treatment of external genital warts. Expert opinion on biological therapy12(6), 783-793.

2- Jaiswal, P., Dhali, T. K., & D’Souza, P. (2019). Comparative study of efficacy of radiofrequency ablation, electrodesiccation, and cryosurgery in the treatment of cutaneous warts. Journal of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery23(1), 24.

3- Valinsky, M. S., Hettinger, D. F., & Gennett, P. M. (1990). Treatment of verrucae via radio wave surgery. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association80(9), 482-488.

4- Bozkurt, M., Zor, F., Küahçi, Y., & Benlier, E. (2005). To the editor: Digital amputation secondary to electrocautery treatment of verruca vulgaris. Dermatologic surgery31(10), 1377-1378.

5- Pfau, A., Abd-el-Raheem, T. A., Bäumler, W., Hohenleutner, U., & Landthaler, M. (1994). Nd: YAG laser hyperthermia in the treatment of recalcitrant verrucae vulgares (Regensburg’s technique). Acta dermato-venereologica74(3), 212-214.

6- Cockayne, S., Hewitt, C., Hicks, K., Jayakody, S., Kang’ombe, A. R., Stamuli, E., … & Watt, I. (2011). Cryotherapy versus salicylic acid for the treatment of plantar warts (verrucae): a randomised controlled trial. Bmj342.

7- Focht III, D. R., Spicer, C., & Fairchok, M. P. (2002). The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart). Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine156(10), 971-974.

About Op. Dr. Canan ERDEM

Merhabalar, ben Op. Dr. Canan ERDEM, 1967 doğumluyum 1984 yılında Etiler Anadolu Lisesinden mezun olduktan sonra Cerrahpaşa Tıp Fakültesi’ne girdim ve 1990 yılında mezun oldum. 1991 yılında Erzurum’da mecburi hizmetimi tamamlayarak 2000 yılında Kartal Eğitim Araştırma Hastanesinde Genel Cerrahi Uzmanlığı İhtisasımı tamamladım.