Can Toothpaste Get Rid of Warts?

Reviewed on 12/23/2020

Toothpaste
It is observed that toothpaste can make warts slowly dry out by cutting off the oxygen supply.

Though toothpaste is one of the popular home remedies for getting rid of warts, it is advised to not use toothpaste on your warts because it can do more harm than good by irritating your skin. Some people have reported warts getting smaller by applying toothpaste on them. They suggest applying a non-gel toothpaste on the wart, covering it completely with a band-aid or duct tape, and keeping it overnight. The procedure may be repeated multiple times until warts are completely removed. It is observed that toothpaste can make warts slowly dry out by cutting off the oxygen supply. A detergent called sodium dodecyl sulfate, which is a common ingredient in toothpaste, helps in getting rid of warts.

What are warts?

Warts are small, circumscribed growths on the skin caused by a virus of the human papillomavirus (HPV) group. Most warts are benign (noncancerous), but highly contagious, through direct or indirect contact. They are one of the most common skin problems. An unusual outgrowth of hardened skin is generally considered a wart. They are most commonly found on the hands and the feet, though they may occur on other parts of the human body as well. There are more than 100 distinct strains of HPV that can cause different types of warts. Different and common types of warts are:

  • Common warts: Small, rough bumps typically flesh-colored or greyish with small black specks; they appear alone, usually on hands and fingers (common among children).
  • Flat warts: Small, smooth lesions that form clusters on the face, legs, or back of the hands.
  • Plantar warts: Hard, flat lesions (sometimes mistaken for corns) affect the sole of the foot or the heel and may at times be painful due to the weight of the body.
  • Filiform warts: Long, thin lesions that grow near the eyes and on the face and neck.
  • Periungual and subungual warts: Lesions that grow around or beneath fingernails. They are common in people who bite their nails.
  • Genital warts (condyloma acuminatum): Tiny, flat lesions that sometimes develop in groups on the genitalia (internal or external). They are more serious due to their associated emotional and social impact (e.g., embarrassment, isolation) and health risk (potential to develop into cancer). Transmission occurs during direct sexual contact, with lesions appearing from 1 to 24 months after sexual intercourse. This type of wart requires special treatment.

What are the treatment options to remove warts?

While warts often disappear on their own without treatment within a few months or years, it is better to have them removed if they are painful and to avoid passing them on to others. Below are a few common treatment options:

  • Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid works by eliminating a thin layer of infected skin every day. However, the product should be applied only on warts. It’s important to protect the healthy surrounding skin. To do so, simply apply clear nail polish or petroleum jelly around warts. To enhance the action of the salicylic acid, soak the wart for 5 to 15 minutes in water then rub the wart with a pumice stone before each application.
  • Special ointments and solutions: Ointments and solutions containing 5-Fluorouracil (a substance that inhibits cell growth), Acyclovir and Imiquimod (antiviral medications), and zinc may be helpful in removing warts.
  • Injections using different kinds of medicine: Various medicines can be injected into warts. These include Bleomycin and 5-Fluorouracil (both drugs inhibit cell growth), Interferons (drugs that affect the immune system), and specific antigens (substances that, like vaccines, trigger an immune response).
  • Curettage: Curettage involves cutting or scraping warts off with a special instrument. The wart is often first treated with a salicylic acid plaster or solution.
  • Cryotherapy: In cryotherapy, the doctor freezes a wart off by applying liquid nitrogen to it. This substance is extremely cold and destroys the cells in the top layer of skin. There are different ways of applying liquid nitrogen. It is often done by dipping a cotton swab in the liquid nitrogen and then holding it against the wart for several seconds. This treatment is repeated several times, with breaks of at least one week between each session. The nitrogen may also be sprayed onto the wart using a small nozzle. Cryotherapy can make warts on the hands go away more quickly.
  • Laser surgery: In this, warts are heated and destroyed using a laser beam. In pulsed dye laser treatment, the heat of the beam is used to destroy the narrow blood vessels that supply blood to warts. The aim is to stop the skin cells from multiplying.
  • Erbium YAG (Yttrium, Aluminum, and Garnet) laser: This laser treatment aims to destroy the wart cells by strongly heating the fluid in them for a short time.
  • Photodynamic therapy: First, a gel is applied to the wart and left on for about 3 hours. The gel contains a special chemical substance that is then activated by light so that it can destroy the wart tissue.

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References
InformedHealth.org. What Are the Treatment Options for Warts? 2006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279585/

WebMD. Skin Conditions and Warts. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/warts#1

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