Lots of adults and kids get warts and verrucae and they can be a real pain to get rid of. They are small, hard growths on the skin that can be unsightly, painful or itchy. Whilst they are not typically harmful, a wart or verruca is still annoying and a bit embarrassing. Luckily, there are many natural remedies that can help clear warts and verrucas without resorting to expensive or invasive treatments.
Warts and verrucas are annoying but common little skin growths caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts typically appear on the fingers, hands, elbows and knees (but can also settle in the genitals); and verrucas (also known as plantar warts) are on the toes and soles of the feet.
Get our lovely Healthy Bites newsletter each week!
Each week, you’ll get an amazing recipe, a useful health tip, and an ingredient to jazz up your shopping basket! We don’t share your details with anyone else.
Preventing warts and verrucas
Since verrucas and warts are quite contagious, here are several ways to help prevent getting them in the first place.
- Avoid touching warts on yourself or others as the virus that causes warts can be spread through direct contact with infected skin.
- Don’t walk barefoot in public areas such as gyms, swimming pools and communal showers where the virus that causes verrucas can thrive. Wear flip-flops or other protective footwear.
- Keep your feet clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection. Wash your feet regularly with soap and water and dry them thoroughly after washing.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, socks or shoes with others as the virus that causes verrucas can spread through contact with infected skin or surfaces.
- Bolster your immune system through a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management techniques. A strong immune system can help to fight off viral infections, including the virus that causes verrucas.
- Don’t pick or scratch them, as this can spread the virus to other parts of your body or to other people.
My top natural home remedies
Duct tape – the simplest natural remedy is plain duct tape! This easy and inexpensive remedy is believed to work by suffocating the virus causing the infection, causing it to eventually die off. To use duct tape, simply cut a small piece of tape and place it directly on the affected area. Leave it on for several days, then remove it and soak the affected area in warm water for several minutes. Use a pumice stone or emery board to gently remove any black dead skin, then repeat the process with a fresh piece of duct tape. Continue this process until the wart or verruca is gone.
Banana peel – if the duct tape on its own has not shifted the wart or verruca, the next step is to pop a small amount of banana peel under the duct tape, just larger than the wart or verruca and repeat daily. It is believed that the enzymes and nutrients in the banana skin can help to dissolve the verruca and promote healing of the affected area. While many people have reported success with this remedy, there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.
Other natural topical remedies – there are other topical options from banana peel method. Simply soak a small cotton wool ball in one of a combination of the mixtures below. Squeeze the cotton wool ball out and place it directly on each individual growth or area of growths. Secure the soaked cotton ball in place with the duct tape and leave it on overnight. Repeat this process every night until the wart or verruca is gone.
- Apple cider vinegar: . This acidic liquid is believed to work by gently burning away the infected tissue, causing the wart or verruca to eventually fall off.
- Tea Tree Oil: This essential oil is known for its antiviral properties, which can help to fight off the virus causing the infection. To use tea tree oil, mix a few drops of the oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Never put undiluted tea tree oil on the skin.
- Essential oils: Oregano, lemon and frankincense essential oils may also be effective for treating warts and verrucas. These oils have antiviral properties that can help to fight off the virus causing the infection. To use essential oils, mix a few drops with a carrier oil.
- Garlic: This pungent bulb is believed to work by stimulating the body’s immune system, helping it to fight off the virus causing the infection. You can take this orally by eating pesto, salsa or other garlicky sauces, and (if you can bear the smell!) also apply it topically in the same way as the apple cider vinegar or tea tree.
Systemic anti-viral remedies – some people are more susceptible to recurrent or multiple warts and verrucas, including genital warts, may find that topical treatments are not always enough. This can be a gentle indicator that the immune system is struggling, finding it challenging to combat the human papillomavirus, thereby signalling a need for additional support. If you or your child’s immune system needs bolstering, consider increasing your intake of vitamin C and zinc. Additionally, natural antiviral remedies such as shiitake and chaga mushrooms, monolaurin, andrographis, olive leaf or turmeric could be beneficial when taken daily for a duration of 2-3 months. Take until they have all gone entirely.
Warts and verrucas can be a nuisance to get rid of, and even medical options have very variable results. Your first port of call to try is the duct tape method or even banana peel.
If these topical treatments are not effective, or you or your child are very prone to picking up warts and verrucas, then this might mean that your immune system needs some additional support. Please be in touch with one of our immune specialists to help support your viral load.
We know many people want to know what products we recommend but unfortunately for regulatory reasons, recommendations have to be private. However all is not lost, you can join NatureDoc Live! for monthly Zoom Q&As with Lucinda, as well as a forum for asking questions, and access to recommendations in our blogs which appear when you log in.
- Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- Duct tape for warts in children: Should nature take its course?
- Silver duct tape occlusion in treatment of plantar warts in adults: Is it effective?
- Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review
- Volatile composition and antimicrobial activity of twenty commercial frankincense essential oil samples
- Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses
- Antiviral potential of garlic ( Allium sativum) and its organosulfur compounds: A systematic update of pre-clinical and clinical data
- Zinc Sulfate in Narrow Range as an In Vitro Anti-HSV-1 Assay
- The Clinical Use of Monolaurin as a Dietary Supplement: A Review of the Literature
- Antiviral Activities of Andrographolide and Its Derivatives: Mechanism of Action and Delivery System
- Treatment of genital herpes using olive leaf extract
- The Efficacy of Combined Olive Leaf and Curcumin Extract on Healing Human Papillomavirus: A Randomized Clinical Trial
- AHCC® Supplementation to Support Immune Function to Clear Persistent Human Papillomavirus Infections
- A study of the antiherpetic activity of the chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extracts in the Vero cells infected with the herpes simplex virus
- Managing your verruca NHS