Warts on Hands: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments
Warts on your hands are caused by a viral infection that affects the upper layer of the skin. Warts can affect any area of the body but are commonly found on your hands, face, neck, and feet. The infection that causes the wart comes from the 100 different types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can get into the skin through a cut, scratch, or abrasion.
For many people, hand warts are a source of embarrassment and discomfort. Getting rid of warts on hands is not too difficult, although it requires some patience until the warts are completely gone for good. Many people have found that home remedies like apple cider vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can destroy the stubborn rough skin growth and HPV. However, sometimes, stronger treatments are required to eliminate warts from your hands, face, or other areas of your body. This is especially the case if you suffer from Verrucas (also called plantar warts). This type of wart develops on the soles (or bottom) of the feet and is harder to remove.
In this article, you will find out about the common types of hand warts, how they are transmitted, and why you should get rid of these unsightly-looking skin growths. You will also learn about the various types of treatments for warts to try to remove them at home.
Causes of Warts on Hands
The human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes warts is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with people who have warts. The virus can also be spread to other parts of your own body.
According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, the virus spreads by touching something that another person’s wart has touched and enters the body through a break in the skin. For example, common reasons why you can get warts are using an infected towel, using exercise equipment at the gym, shaking hands, or turning doorknobs.1
Skin infections through hangnails or biting your fingernails can be a reason for warts appearing on your fingers and around your nails.
Dr. Brunilda Nazario on WebMD says that not everyone who comes into contact with the HPV gets hand warts. It seems that your immune system plays a vital role in fighting off viruses and preventing warts from developing.2
Dr. Nazario also says that children and young adults are more prone to developing warts. This is because their immune system hasn’t yet had time to develop strong immunity against the various strains of HPV.
Types of Warts on Hands
There are many types of warts that can affect various areas of your body. Depending on the kind of wart you have and where it is located, it may itch or hurt occasionally. The types of warts that commonly appear on fingers, backs of hands, and on your palms, are:
Common warts usually appear on your fingers or hands. The Mayo Clinic says that common hand warts usually have a rough surface and may be skin-colored, white, or tan. You may also notice black dots in the grainy bump which are just clotted blood vessels.3 It’s common to have a cluster of these warts on your hands as the virus spreads easily to surrounding skin.
Dermatologist Dr. Stephanie Gardner says that flat warts affect more children and teens than adults. Flat warts have a smooth surface and don’t have a raised, cauliflower-like appearance like common warts do.4 Although they commonly grow on the face, they can also occur on the backs of your hands and are pink in color.5
Other types of warts
There are other types of warts that don’t appear on your hands or fingers.
Verrucas or verrucae – (sometimes called plantar warts) occur when the HPV infects the soles of your feet. The National Health Services says that verrucas are usually flat warts and they can appear in clusters. Depending on where they are on your feet, they can also cause pain and discomfort when walking.6
Genital warts – are found around the genitalia and can also appear inside the vagina or anus. According to Dr. Gardner, genital warts are contagious and can spread rapidly. They are the most common type of STD in North America.4
Why You Should Get Rid of Warts on Hands
Although warts are harmless growths on your skin, there are many reasons why you should get rid of them. Most people want to get these skin growths removed because they are unsightly. However, there are many more reasons to remove hand warts than just aesthetics.
One of the main reasons for removing hand warts and warts from other areas of your body is that the human papillomavirus is contagious and is easily spread.
Dr. David T. Derrer on WebMD says that warts are easily spread among family members through using towels or touching objects around the home. Also, you may infect other areas of your own body and increase the number of warts that you have.7
For example, if your hand wart touches a scratch on your skin after shaving, you may end up with warts on your face, legs or armpits.
Therefore, Dr. Derrer recommends that to prevent warts spreading, you should always wash your hands after touching a wart and never pick at them.
You should also remove HPV warts from your skin if they change color, cause you discomfort, or start to bleed.
Natural Treatments to Get Rid of Warts on Your Hands
There are many natural treatments that people have found very effective at removing warts from their hands. There is even some scientific research to back up these anecdotal reports. Here are some of the most popular ways to treat hand warts naturally.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a common remedy for wart removal and is great for your general health. Apple cider vinegar contains a high amount of acetic acid which has antiviral and antimicrobial properties which can help kill off the human papillomavirus.
For example, a common treatment for wart removal is salicylic acid which destroys the HPV. Apple cider vinegar is a gentler type of acid, but still has properties useful for killing viral infections.
A study published in the Danish Medical Bulletin reported that acetic acid can be used for wart removal. The researchers found that 5% acetic acid used on genital warts over a period of time killed off the human papillomavirus infection.8
Many readers of this website also report that apple cider vinegar has helped them remove warts and skin tags naturally. Please read my article on getting rid of warts naturally and cheaply at home to read our readers comments.
How to use:
It’s very easy to use the antiviral properties of apple cider vinegar for wart removal from your hands.
- Soak a small cotton pad in apple cider vinegar and place it over the hand wart.
- Use a band-aid or secured piece of gauze to keep the ACV remedy in place on the wart overnight.
- Continue to apply every night until the wart on your hand disappears. (It should take at least a week to remove the wart completely.)
Hydrogen peroxide is another natural home remedy for hand warts that is popular among many people. Hydrogen peroxide has many uses around the home because it is a natural astringent, disinfecting, and antiviral agent.
To use hydrogen peroxide for wart removal, you should use 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide. This should be powerful enough to destroy many HPV strains to help get rid of hand warts. It is very powerful and should be kept away from children and pets.
Please remember that 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be used to remove skin tags and warts around your eyes or from other sensitive areas.
How to use:
To remove hand warts with the hydrogen peroxide remedy, you only need a box of cotton swabs and a nail file.
- Gently file the top layer of skin from the hand wart.
- Soak the end of the cotton swab in full strength food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
- Carefully dab it on the wart and rub it slightly for the solution to penetrate into the skin growth.
- Repeat 3-5 times a day for a week or two until the hand wart becomes darker and falls off.
Many website mention duct tape as an effective way to remove hand warts naturally. In fact, it is even mentioned by the American Academy of Dermatology as a way to get rid of warts!9 Duct tape works by suffocating the wart and cutting off its air supply.
There has also been scientific research into using duct tape for wart removal. For example, a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that duct tape was as effective at removing warts as cryotherapy (freezing the wart). Duct tape removed warts in 85% of the patients and most of the warts were removed within the first month of treatment.10
How to use:
To effectively and naturally get rid of hand warts using duct tape, this is what you should do:
- Clean the area around the hand wart to remove any dirt and grime and dry thoroughly.
- Cut a piece of duct tape just large enough to cover your wart.
- Carefully apply the duct tape over your hand wart and press firmly for good adhesion, making sure that no air gets in.
- Leave the duct tape on for 6 days and then remove.
- Soak the wart in warm water for around a minute to soften the skin growth.
- Using a file or emery board, remove the top layer of dead skin from the hand wart.
- Leave the wart uncovered overnight and on the next day repeat the process. But this time you can leave the tape for just a few days.
- Continue applying the duct tape until you get rid of your wart for good.
Garlic is a natural antiviral agent that can be used to kill many viral infections. Garlic extract can also be used for hand wart removal. The powerful antimicrobial properties in garlic work to destroy the HPV and help remove warts from your hands.
A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology confirmed that garlic extract is able to cure warts. In fact, researchers found garlic to be so effective at removing warts that warts were removed from nearly all patients.11
Citric acid is another natural treatment for hand wart removal with very little side effects. Citric acid is a natural antioxidant that can help to reduce the spread of viruses and kill off viral infections.
The Indian Journal of Dermatology researched the effect of 50% citric acid solution for the removal of warts. The citric acid treatment was found to be more effective than tretinoin – a popular pharmaceutical drug used for wart removal and acne. The researchers concluded that “the treatment of plane warts by 50% citric acid is strongly suggested.”
Other Treatments for Warts
Although hand wart removal by using home remedies have worked for many people, some find that their warts still persist. If you still have warts on your hands, face, or other areas of your body, your dermatologist may recommend some other type of treatment.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common treatments for warts are:12
Salicylic acid is a chemical peeler that removes layers of the wart over a period of time. This usually requires manually removing dead skin layers with a file or emery board and applying the salicylic acid daily.
Cryotherapy is a method to freeze the wart using liquid nitrogen. This causes a blister to form under the rough skin growth and the wart should fall off in a week or so. Sometimes, repeated treatments are necessary for complete wart removal from your hands, face, or another area of your body.
Laser therapy burns the blood vessels that feed the wart. However, this method is known to cause pain and scarring.
If you need to use conventional methods to get rid of warts, you may find it helpful to boost your wart treatment with some essential oils that have antiviral properties. To find out more, please read my article on the best essential oil for treating warts naturally.
How to Prevent Warts on Hands
Once you have got rid of all warts from your hands, it’s important to prevent a recurrence. This is the only successful way to make sure that warts don’t come back because there is no cure for the human papillomavirus.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend the following methods to prevent warts growing on your hands:13
- Avoid touching warts, even your own warts.
- Never pick warts to prevent spreading the virus.
- Trim your nails and any hangnails carefully. Never bite your fingernails or pull off hangnails.
- Use disposable emery boards or keep one specifically for wart removal and always sterilize it after use.
- Avoid sharing towels with anyone.
- Clean gym equipment before using it and always wash your hands before and after using the equipment.
- Wear flip-flops or sandals when using communal showers or walking around the locker room.
- Avoid brushing, clipping, or shaving areas where you have warts.
- If you touch a wart, always wash your hands afterward.
When to See a Doctor for Hand Warts
Hand warts caused by the human papillomavirus are harmless skin growths. However, in some cases, you should see a doctor for hand warts. For example, see a doctor or dermatologist if:
- You aren’t sure the skin growth is a wart.
- The growths are painful or change color or appearance.
- Despite repeated attempts to remove hand warts they keep coming back.
- The wart on your hands interferes with your daily activities.
- The wart changes color, starts to weep, or bleeds easily
Read these related articles:
- How to Remove Skin Tags and Warts With Apple Cider Vinegar
- How to Remove Skin Tags and Warts with Hydrogen Peroxide
- The Best Essential Oil for Treating Warts Naturally
- MayoClinic. Common warts.
- WebMD. Why do some people get warts and others don’t?
- MayoClinic. Common warts. Symptoms.
- WebMD. Skin conditions and warts.
- UMM. Warts.
- NHS. Warts and verrucas.
- WebMD. Warts: 10 Answers to common
- Dan Med Bull. 1990 Jun;37(3):286-7.
- AAD. How to get rid of warts.
- Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Oct;156(10):971-4.
- Int J Derm. 2005 July;44(7):612-617.
- MayoClinic. Common warts. Treatments and drugs.