Have you ever had a wart? Nearly everyone has. These nuisances are caused by the papilloma virus and 20% of children and 10% of adults have warts right now. Warts are most common at age 14. There are over 100 viruses that cause warts and you tend to develop an immunity to these viruses over time. So, like the common cold, adults get less than kids.
So how do you treat warts? You could leave them alone – 2/3 go away by themselves within 2 years. If they hurt or are unsightly, you might try one of a few hundred remedies. In medicine, whenever there are many different treatments, you can be sure that most of them really don’t work. And that’s the case with warts. Most commonly, warts are frozen off (that’s called cryotherapy) or burned off with acid. Surgeons don’t like to cut them out, because they can come back like a dandelion that’s been pulled out without getting the roots.
But what’s the best treatment? Half of warts that are frozen off every 2 weeks are cured in about 3 months. And that salicylic acid that so many of us buy in the pharmacy and paint on our warts every day? That works only 15% of the time with 3 months of treatment. And if you do nothing but watch that wart every day? Well, 8% will go away on their own during the 3 months. And have you heard of the duct tape treatment (I love the name - "adhesiotherapy") – many people think that if you put a piece on the wart it will fall off when the tape is yanked in a week. Though we hope it would work because it’s cheap and every house has a roll, it turns out that there’s not a shred of evidence that this home remedy really works.