Apple cider vinegar has been promoted as a liquid that has several health benefits, with one of them being an ability to remove certain types of warts. Does the reality match up with the hype? Does apple cider vinegar actually remove warts? Let’s find out.
How Warts Form
Warts are extremely common, and although they are usually rather benign, they are extremely ugly. If you have one, you’ll obviously want to get rid of it as fast as possible.
A wart is caused by a type of virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV usually gets into the body due to some sort of trauma, such as a small cut, a bruise or another type of injury. While HPV is contagious, it typically won’t pass from person to person unless you come into direct contact with someone else’s wart. However, if you have one, you could spread the virus to another part of your body, such as if you bite your nails or touch your face. A genital wart is a sexually transmitted infection that is a different type of HPV.1
Three of the most common types of warts are seed, plantar, and flat. A seed wart is the one you probably see most often. It looks somewhat like a tiny cauliflower and can appear anywhere on the body. However, it most often shows up in places such as a finger or elbow. In some instances, it will have black dots that are actually blood vessels that have clotted.2
A plantar wart will typically be located on the soles of the feet, either on the heel or on the bottom of a toe. Plantar warts have hard patches dotted with dark specks, and will often grow inward rather than outward because of the weight of the body on the bottom of the foot. These can be painful, especially when walking.
A flat wart is smooth and normally round. It can be brownish or yellowish in color, but it’s usually the color of the skin. In many instances, flat warts can grow in clusters of up to 100.
How it Works
The use of vinegar dates back to around 5000 BC, shortly after humans discovered it could be used to help preserve food. Hippocrates reportedly used vinegar to treat wounds. Doctors in the U.S. first started using vinegar in the late 1700s to address problems such as upset stomach and poison ivy.3
Apple cider vinegar contains powerful acids (acetic acid and malic acid) that have been shown to possess antifungal and antiviral properties.4 ACV also includes several minerals, such as potassium and pectin, as well as vitamins.
Although most proof regarding the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in removing warts is anecdotal, there have been studies showing that it can work, especially on plantar warts.5,6 Apple cider vinegar doesn’t kill the virus that causes a wart. Instead, it burns the wart, causing it to eventually peel off from the skin. Any HPV virus living in the wart will be peeled off as well. However, there will likely be more HPV deeper in the skin that could eventually lead to the formation of new warts.
Use With Caution
While apple cider vinegar can help remove warts, it can be very rough on the skin. You might feel some pain, and there is also a chance that you could experience some scarring and skin erosion.
The procedure is relatively simple. All you’ll need is the vinegar, cotton balls, and a Band-Aid.
Here’s how to do it:
· Wash the area and dry it completely.
· Place a few drops of vinegar on the cotton ball, but be sure not to soak it to the point to where it drips.
· Put the cotton ball on the wart, and then cover it with the Band-Aid. Keep the Band-Aid on the area overnight.
· The next morning, remove the bandage and wash the area.
· Keep repeating this procedure until the wart has been removed.
It’s very important to note, however, that you should never use apple cider vinegar on you neck or face without first diluting it – about a 2-to-1 ratio of water to vinegar should work. Apply some petroleum jelly to the area around the wart to protect it from potential burning.
It’s also important to note that it will probably take longer than a week for you to see results from using apple cider vinegar. You have to let the wart fall off completely – if you try peeling it off, that could lead to deep scarring.
What to Expect
The area of the wart will likely swell and potentially be painful for the first couple of days. You might also experience some itching or burning. After about three days, the wart will likely appear black in color and begin to dry substantially. This is a sign that it is preparing to peel off. Different people react differently, however, so it might take longer than three days for this to occur.
By the seventh day or so, the wart should be ready to fall off. Again, you need to allow this to happen naturally, instead of trying to force it. Some of the wart could remain inside the skin once the outer portion falls away.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Genital Warts
Do not try to use apple cider vinegar to remove a genital wart. This type of wart is different from typical warts, and needs to be treated by a physician. The skin in the genital region is much more sensitive, and as a result it will very likely not be able to tolerate the acids in the vinegar. This could lead to the skin peeling off, presenting a substantial risk of an infection.
While apple cider vinegar can help remove a wart, remember to be extremely careful when using it. If you’re prone to scarring, you might want to consider an alternative method of removal. See a doctor if your wart doesn’t respond to the apple cider vinegar after two weeks, or if you see the signs of an infection, such as red streaks coming from the area, pus discharge, fever, or increased tenderness or pain.
Want more cutting edge health information? Keep reading here:
1. “Genital Warts – NHS Choices”. Nhs.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.
2. “What Warts Look Like | American Academy Of Dermatology”. Aad.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.
3. CA, Johnston. “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses And Antiglycemic Effect. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2006. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.
4. Shirey, K. A. et al. “The Anti-Tumor Agent, 5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-Acetic Acid (DMXAA), Induces IFN- -Mediated Antiviral Activity In Vitro And In Vivo”. N.p., 2010. Print.
5. Gaston, Anca, and Robert F Garry. “Topical Vitamin A Treatment Of Recalcitrant Common Warts”. N.p., 2012. Print.
6. Steele K, et al. “Monochloroacetic Acid And 60% Salicylic Acid As A Treatment For Simple Plantar Warts: Effectiveness And Mode Of Action. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 1988. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.