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Integrative Dermatology Approaches to Treating Warts: Testing and Topicals

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 Integrative Dermatology Approaches to Treating Warts: Testing and Topicals

Warts are a common skin condition and affect 10% of people worldwide. While there are several types of warts, all are caused by the same virus. This article will discuss what warts are, including the different types and symptoms, why some people get them, and others don’t, and how to prevent the spread of warts. Functional medicine tests that can help to evaluate why warts are occurring, and conventional therapies and integrative dermatological options will then be discussed.


What are Warts?

Warts are harmless, abnormal growths of skin. Warts are non-cancerous, but they can be spread to other people via direct contact, although they may also be spread by using personal products, such as razors and towels, that came in direct contact with a wart. Warts can be present anywhere on the body, and there are six different types.

Types of Warts

What Causes Warts?

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has over 100 different variations, with different strains responsible for forming different kinds of warts.

While HPV is the cause of warts, certain micronutrient deficiencies may make people more susceptible to getting warts. Micronutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12, can influence the immune response, as well as folate, zinc, selenium, iron, and copper. Having low or deficient levels of these micronutrients may impair the immune response to HPV and, thus, may increase the risk of developing a wart.

Why Do Some People Get Active Warts and Others Don’t?

Only some people who come in contact with a wart will get them. As the immune response varies from person to person, some people can withstand contact with HPV and not develop a wart. However, skin damage makes the skin more susceptible to HPV, making people with chronic skin conditions such as eczema more likely to develop warts. Nail biting and picking hangnails can also make people more likely to develop a wart, as these actions also damage the skin.

What are The Symptoms of Warts?

The symptoms of warts will vary depending on the type of wart.

Common Warts Symptoms

Warts are grayish-yellow or brown in color and often have a rough surface

Filiform Warts Symptoms

Warts have fingerlike projections coming out of them; they are small, long and narrow growths

Flat Warts Symptoms

These warts form in clusters and are small and smooth.

Genital Warts Symptoms

These warts may present in clusters and can have a cauliflower-like appearance. These warts are linked to cervical, anal, and other types of cancers.

Periungual Warts Symptoms

These warts are found around the nails and appear as thicken skin; they may split and form painful fissures.

Plantar and Palmar Warts Symptoms

Because these warts are found in places of pressure they actually grow inward and may be confused with callouses. These warts will have black dots on the surface. They can also present in clusters and are then referred to as “mosaic warts.”

How to Prevent Warts

Warts are contagious through direct skin-to-skin contact but can also spread through the use of items that have touched a wart, such as a razor or a towel. To prevent the spread of warts, care should be taken to avoid the wart coming in contact with other people's skin. People who have warts should not share personal care products, and if the wart is located on their feet, they should also avoid being barefoot on surfaces that other people may be barefoot on, such as household floors or gym mats. Lastly, people who have warts should also avoid touching other areas of their own body with the wart, as they can spread to other parts of the body.

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for Patients Who Chronically Get Warts

Functional medicine testing for patients with warts may include micronutrient and immune system testing.

Immune System Testing

The Lymphocyte MAP test by Cyrex Laboratories evaluates 28 different biomarkers to achieve an in-depth analysis of how the immune system is functioning. Since immune susceptibility may play a role in the development of warts, this test may be indicated for those who suffer from chronic warts.

Conventional Treatment for Warts

Most warts will go away without treatment, although they may take months to clear. Genital warts are the only exception and should always be treated since the type of HPV that causes genital warts may also cause cancer. Wart treatment depends on how many warts there are, the type of wart, where it’s located on the body, and how long they’ve been there. Many options exist for the treatment of warts, including over-the-counter products, prescription products, and in-office treatments. Topical medicine may be used, or they may try to freeze the wart off with liquid nitrogen. Additionally, electric currents may be used, or the wart may need to be surgically removed. Treatments may eliminate the wart(s), but they often do return, or new warts may form.

How to Get Rid of Warts Naturally

Natural treatment of warts may include the supplements zinc and propolis.


Zinc is an important trace mineral and affects growth, reproduction, gastrointestinal, neurological, and immune functioning. Zinc may play a role in the development of warts. One study assessed zinc levels of 75 patients with (10 or more) warts that were resistant to or recurred after conventional therapies and had been present for six months or longer. Results showed that those with warts were more likely to be zinc deficient. Thus, testing zinc levels and assuring zinc status in the body is adequate may reduce the risk of developing warts. Additionally, a randomized placebo-controlled trial was published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology assessing zinc supplementation in people with multiple warts that had been resistant to conventional treatments. In the study zinc was administered for either one or two months; all participants were followed for six months to evaluate recurrence. Results showed 78.1% of those given zinc had disappearance of all warts. After six months, there was no recurrence in the zinc-treated group. 10 mg/kg was the dose used in the study, with a maximum dose of 600 mg/day. The duration was dependent upon response; if warts weren’t resolved after one month, an additional month of zinc supplementation was given.


Propolis is a resin-like mixture produced by honey bees to assist in the structure of their hives. However, propolis also has medicinal value for humans, including antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Propolis also has immunomodulatory actions. The International Journal of Dermatology published a randomized control trial assessing the effectiveness of propolis, the immune-stimulating botanical echinacea, or placebo on 135 participants with warts. Results showed the propolis treatment group had significantly higher resolution rates as compared to the echinacea and placebo group; 75% of those with plane warts and 73% of those with common warts saw resolution in the propolis treatment group.



Warts are a common skin condition and can develop anywhere on the body, with each type of wart presenting differently. Functional medicine testing can help to evaluate if micronutrient deficiencies may be playing a role in the etiology of the wart(s). Conventional and integrative therapies can then be administered to achieve a complete resolution.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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