The 7 mistakes people make when treating their warts

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Would a wart by another name be easier to treat? Hardly a Shakespearean love story!

Warts, Verruca, Papilloma – however you know them, they are one and the same. And ALWAYS a pain to treat. There are so many ways to treat them , both pharmaceutical and natural (aka old wives tales) but unfortunately the product you choose to use is often not enough. We see huge numbers of warts in the clinic, often after they have been present for many years.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to know some of the common mistakes people make when treating warts so you could avoid them?

Well, I’m going to fill you in on these mistakes so you can avoid them like the plague and treat yours or your child’s warts as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The 7 top mistakes people make when treating warts

Treating a wart that actually isn’t a wart.

Warts and corns can look very similar. They are often round and small and on the sole of the foot. It is not standard practice to use an acid paint or liquid nitrogen to remove a corn. So you want to be sure you actually have a wart before embarking on treatment. As a rule of thumb warts hurt when you squeeze them, whereas corns hurt with direction pressure.

Leaving them for too long without treatment

Yes, sometimes they do go away on their own. I’ve seen it. When I was a teenager I had heaps of warts on my feet. We tried everything. And I mean everything. Like sticking banana skin on them and ‘selling’ them to a friend’s mum for 1 cent a wart (yes, seriously). Then one morning I woke up and they were gone. Spontaneous resolution. Such a relief.  But on the flip side I have seen them get very big very quickly. Like to the size of a 50c piece. Don’t assume they will go away. The bigger they are and the longer they have been there means it will likely take longer to treat.

Not choosing the right treatment.

There are 2 main types of treatment. Acid paint and freezing the tissue. Freezing of warts on the sole of the foot rarely works. They are too deep into the tissue (because of your body weight). When you have a wart on the sole of the foot, the best treatment is an acid paint. But then you need to ensure you are using the right acid paint for your age, health and size of the wart. The internet is full of natural treatment options but there is little evidence to support their use and in some cases can be damaging. Please do not believe everything you read on google.

Damaging your healthy skin during the treatment process

If you choose an acid paint, you MUST protect the surrounding healthy tissue. Acid paints are designed to burn the wart tissue but they will just as easily burn the healthy tissue. You need to protect the healthy skin with a generous smear of Vaseline around the wart. Not on the wart, around the perimeter. This will stop the acid spreading. Just to return to the ‘natural’ treatment discussion briefly. I once saw a client in clinic who had used Apple Cider Vinegar on the warts, then covered them in electrical tape. She had found both ‘solutions’ on the internet. The electrical tape is believed to starve the wart of oxygen, and the ACV is reported to be anti-viral. The result of using the 2 options was that the skin under the tape had macerated so significantly that it just peeled off when I removed the tape. Unfortunately the warts were still there.

Not following the instructions

You must follow the instructions of whichever product you use to the letter. Painting an acid on once a month will not work. They need to be hit hard and fast. And you MUST MUST MUST read the precautions. I have seen too many people burn themselves because they didn’t take the fact they were using an acid seriously enough.

Not using padding

Warts on the sole of the foot are often embedded deeply. Especially if they have been there for a while. By padding the area with a donut pad made of felt or foam, you give the wart the space to pop out rather than continually pushing the wart in every time you walk.

Not having the area debrided enough or frequently enough.

The skin of a wart under treatment becomes quite messy. The acid paint or liquid nitrogen leaves the skin white and rubbery and this needs to be removed so the treatment can continue to be effective. You can attempt to remove this at home with a disposable file but the most effective way to have this done is with a scalpel blade by a podiatrist.

Remember, while treatment at home is always an option, we have access to far stronger acids in the clinic and we are able to accurately remove the dead tissue. The combination results in a faster outcome and will not only save you the time and the hassle of lengthy treatments but may also save you money in the long run. If you would like to know the tips the experts swear by, you can download our Guide to successful wart treatment below