Warts: Using Salicylic Acid

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Topic Overview

Salicylic acid is available as a paint, cream, plaster, tape, or patch that you put on the wart. Be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with the medicine, or follow your doctor's instructions. Salicylic acid may take weeks to months to cure a wart.

For best results:

  • Before applying salicylic acid, soak the wart in water to help loosen and soften skin. This helps the medicine penetrate the skin more easily.
  • Apply salicylic acid to the wart when you go to bed. Cover the area with a bandage or sock, and wash off the medicine in the morning.
  • Avoid getting salicylic acid on your unaffected skin. Salicylic acid should touch only the wart.
  • With repeated application, salicylic acid causes the wart tissue to become soft so that it can be rubbed off easily.
  • Remove dead tissue daily or once or twice a week with careful use of a file or pumice stone or as instructed on the medicine package. Dead tissue contains living wart virus, so dispose of the dead skin carefully. The pumice stone or file will also have living wart virus on it. Don't use the file or pumice stone for any other purpose, or you may spread the virus.
  • If treatment causes the area to become too tender, stop using the medicine for 2 to 3 days.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015