The 6 Best Wart Removers of 2021

Clear your skin with these top picks

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Warts can be hardly noticeable or a source of discomfort, depending on the type. Warts can grow on the body with a rough, grainy texture, and are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a fairly common virus.

There are four main types of warts people can develop. 

  • Common warts appear as raised bumps where the outer layer of skin becomes hardened.
  • Flat warts are small and have some thickened skin around them. They commonly develop on children’s faces.
  • Plantar warts are rough warts that usually develop on the feet, causing pain when they are under pressure (such as when you walk). They often start small (the size of a pea), but they can grow and coalesce into very large areas.
  • Genital warts stem from a sexually transmitted infection that comes from sexual contact with someone who has HPV. These warts appear outside or inside the genitals. They usually look cauliflower-like, and they can be itchy and irritating. Some of these warts are associated with cancer. 

Mary P. Lupo M.D., the head of the Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology in New Orleans, tells Verywell Health that warts are most common in children because they’re contagious through touch and can penetrate small cuts. “Many people step on something and cut their foot and weeks later think they have ‘something in my foot from the cut’ but in fact, it is the pressure of the plantar wart that gained access from the injury,” she said. She says treatments work to “stimulate the body’s immune system to fight off the virus” through freezing or chemical irritants.

Most common warts go away on their own, but it takes time. For those who dislike the appearance and discomfort of warts, fear not. They can be removed with a slew of methods, including at-home treatments such as freezing or high concentrations of salicylic acid, or with a procedure at a doctor's office, such as laser or cryotherapy treatment.

We researched dozens of wart removers and evaluated them for reviews, active ingredients, form, application type, and duration of treatment. Each of the products chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Here are the best over-the-counter (OTC) wart removers on the market. Note that if an OTC treatment isn't working or causes further irritation, you should consult your doctor.

Our Top Picks
It is easy to use thanks to its handy no-drip tube applicator.
These pads have adhesive to stick onto your foot and conceal unattractive warts and bumps.
This is packed with 40 percent salicylic acid and helps gently diminish and remove warts on hands, feet, and skin.
These wart remover strips go on like a bandaid and promise to stay in place while fighting warts.
This product is best for warts on hard-to-reach places like fingers and toes.
This product is one of the strongest wart removers on the market without a prescription.

Best Overall: Compound W Maximum Strength Fast Acting Gel Wart Remover

Compound W Maximum Strength Fast Acting Gel
Pros
  • Gel is less messy than a liquid

  • Easy application, can be done anywhere

  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons
  • You have to wait for it to dry

  • Takes a long time for results

The Compound W Maximum Strength Fast Acting Gel, available without a prescription, is formulated with 17 percent salicylic acid that may start to work instantly to remove warts. This product is affordable and dermatologist-recommended, and it's also easy to use thanks to its handy no-drip tube applicator that can be used by adults and kids over the age of three, making this a household staple. It typically takes weeks of daily use to completely get rid of the wart with this treatment, so you need to be patient and consistent.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 17% | Dosage: One drop to cover wart, once or twice daily for up to 12 weeks.

Best for Plantar Warts: Compound W Maximum Strength One Step Plantar Wart Remover Foot Pads

Compound W Maximum Strength One Step Plantar Wart Remover Foot Pads
Pros
  • Foot pads can be conveniently left in place

  • Contains salicylic acid

  • Cushioned and waterproof

Cons
  • Bandage may not stay in place with all activities

  • You may need to buy several packages to last the maximum 12 weeks

Plantar warts develop on the soles of the feet and can be painful when you stand or walk. While most are harmless and go away without treatment, sometimes they’re too painful and can make the simplest of tasks feel agonizing. These are very contagious and can be spread in public swimming pools, communal showers, or even in your shower at home.

Those looking to tackle plantar warts on the feet can forget the old days of walking with pain and discomfort when wearing shoes after using the Compound W Maximum Strength One Step Plantar Foot Pads. These pads have adhesive to stick onto your foot and conceal unattractive warts and bumps while tackling the warts with concentrated 40 percent salicylic acid. Dr. Lupo says irritants and exfoliants like salicylic acid are excellent options for tackling stubborn plantar warts.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 40% | Dosage: Apply bandage to wart, repeat every 48 hours for up to 12 weeks.

What the Experts Say

“At low levels, salicylic acid is commonly used as an acne treatment, however, at high levels, it is effective at removing cells infected by the wart virus. A 40 percent concentration has been proven effective in the [OTC] treatment of warts.”

Angie Seelal, PA-C, of Advanced Dermatology PC

Best with Salicylic Acid: WartStick Maximum Strength Salicylic Acid Common and Plantar Wart Remover

WartStick Maximum Strength Salicylic Acid Solid-Stick Common and Plantar Wart Remover 0.2 Oz
Pros
  • Can be used on any size wart

  • Up to 35 separate applications

  • Odorless and pain-free

Cons
  • You need to avoid treating surrounding skin, which may be difficult

  • Takes time to see results and you need to be consistent with treatment

Don’t be fooled by this unassuming little stick, which some users say is the size of a typical type of Chapstick; the WartStick wart remover packs a powerful punch—with 40 percent salicylic acid—to get rid of even years-old warts. 

“[Salicylic acid is] the same active ingredient used to fight acne, believe it or not,” says Angie Seelal, PA-C, of Advanced Dermatology PC. “It’s a beta-hydroxy acid that helps exfoliate and remove dead cells from the surface of the skin.”

In other words, salicylic acid breaks down the skin cells of a wart so the dead cells can fall away or be sloughed off with an emery board or pumice stone. These treatments are usually available as a liquid, gel, or pre-treated patch that you apply like a band-aid to your wart, but we like this nifty little stick because it’s portable, non-messy, and can treat multiple sizes of warts, from teeny-tiny ones to larger ones.

The application method combined with the mega-dose of salicylic acid in the WartStick is probably why it works so well; spread a thin layer of the treatment on your wart using the stick once a day for up to 12 weeks. That’s it: There are no gels or liquids to mess with, and no need to leave a patch or adhesive strip on for long periods of time. It’s painless, odorless, has been around for more than 50 years, and is used by children and parents alike.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 40% | Dosage: Apply a thin layer to the wart daily, as needed, for up to 12 weeks.

Best for Kids: Compound W One Step Wart Remover Strips for Kids

Compound W One Step Wart Remover Strips for Kids
Pros
  • Easy-to-apply bandaid style

  • Kid-friendly design

  • Safe for kids over 3 years old

Cons
  • Only 10 strips per box

  • Contains highest level of salicylic acid, which could be irritating

Children are more vulnerable to get warts than adults because they have immature immune systems. For easily irritable kids who don’t want to wait for warts to clear up on their own, these super cute wart removing strips go on like a regular bandaid and stay in place no matter what your kids put them through (yes, they’re waterproof!). Their totally pain-free treatment method makes it easy for your kid to apply and forget about—but meanwhile, the wart removing strip will be working hard, tackling your child’s wart with 40 percent salicylic acid.

These strips come 10 per box, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but in theory, you should only have to apply a new one every 48 hours, at least. They’re also safe for kids over the age of three, so even preschoolers can benefit from this painless method and likely love the colorful patterns on the strips.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 40% | Dosage: Apply bandage to wart, repeat every 48 hours for up to 12 weeks.

Best Patches: Dr. Scholl's ClearAway Wart Remover with Duragel Technology

Dr. Scholl's ClearAway Wart Remover with Duragel Technology
Pros
  • Small and discreet for use on highly visible areas

  • Flexible construction than can last several days

  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons
  • There are two pieces to the patches, which can be complicated to use

  • An uneven number of medicated patches and cushions included

Dr. Scholl’s ClearAway Wart Remover is a popular patch because its strips are invisible and discreet.

These patches are easy to apply, stick onto skin well without any issues, even after a night’s sleep, and work fast without any pain or discomfort. This is a great option for those timid about more aggressive freezing options.

Not only is this product clinically proven to remove common warts thanks to its 40 percent salicylic acid active ingredient, but this patch is also comfortable because it’s thin, flexible, and has discreet cushioning to keep its medicated disk in place. This product is best for warts that are located on hard-to-reach places like fingers and toes.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 40% | Dosage: Apply to the affected area, remove after 48 hours, and repeat as needed for up to 12 weeks.

Best for Feet: Dr. Scholl's FreezeAway Wart Remover Dual Action

Dr. Scholl’s FreezeAway Wart Remover Dual Action
Pros
  • Freezing and salicylic acid treatment

  • Works faster than salicylic acid alone

  • Can be used for common or plantar warts, which are usually on feet

Cons
  • Some users find salicylic acid application difficult

  • Freezing method is painful

Plantar warts on the feet can at times be incredibly painful and can make walking an arduous task. For warts on thicker skin, like on the bottom of your feet, experts suggest using stronger concentrations of salicylic acid or freezing the wart.

Dr. Scholl’s FreezeAway Wart Remover Dual Action gives you the best of both worlds, offering freeze therapy plus the fast-acting 17 percent salicylic acid. This product is one of the strongest non-prescription wart removers available on the market, and it’s safe to use for kids over the age of four. This product first freezes the wart off and breaks it down with the acid so the body can heal with new, wart-less skin.

A slew of reviewers claim that they saw results with this product in less than a week. Dr. Lupo says freezing is a popular method because it triggers an immune response to get rid of the frozen skin and wart. 

However, plantar warts are more difficult to remove with OTC products, especially if they are hidden under calluses. If at-home treatments don’t work, consider meeting with a doctor who can use other treatments that penetrate deeper into the foot to target the wart.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid 17% | Dosage: Follow package instructions for freezing; 24 hours later, apply one drop of the salicylic acid liquid to the wart twice a day for two weeks.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking to zap away a wart fast, Compound W Maximum Strength Fast Acting Gel Wart Remover (view at Amazon) is a safe option, loaded with 17 percent salicylic acid to peel away the wart skin cells. But if you’re targeting heavy-duty plantar warts on your feet that are more difficult to remove because they’re surrounded by thicker skin, it's best to consider Dr. Scholl’s FreezeAway Wart Remover Dual Action (view at Amazon) treatment, which uses freezing technology and salicylic acid together to remove those unwanted bumps speedily.

What to Look for in a Wart Remover

Comfort Level

There’s a wide array of over-the-counter wart treatment these days, but if you’re sensitive to pain and discomfort you may want to veer away from the freezing ones, recommends Maryland-based dermatologist Amie G. Sessa, M.D. Seek a patch or bandage option instead or opt for a gentle cream or stick wart remover.

Active Ingredients

When it comes to treating warts at home, you may get better results with a product containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient than a natural ingredient like tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar. Unless you’re planning to freeze your wart, a product containing salicylic acid is a good bet. 

“At low levels, salicylic acid is commonly used as an acne treatment, however, at high levels, it is effective at removing cells infected by the wart virus,” Seelal explains. “A 40 percent concentration has been proven effective in the [OTC] treatment of warts.”

That doesn’t mean you should jump right into the maximum strength dosage first, however: Seelal says it’s better to start off with the lower strengths and gradually increase every four weeks to a higher concentration if needed. If your skin becomes red, raw, or starts peeling, discontinue the use of your OTC product and talk to a dermatologist. 

Type of Wart

Depending on the type of wart you have, you should seek a different product. If warts are surrounded by thicker skin on the feet, it’s better to seek a higher concentration of salicylic acid. While the options on the list work for a variety of warts, if you have genital warts seek a product specifically designed for that sensitive area.

Location of Wart

If on the feet, plantar foot pads are specifically made for those painful bumps and sores and are designed to stay in place so you don’t have to worry about them falling off. If you’re seeking to hide subtle warts on more visible parts of your body Dr. Scholl's ClearAway Wart Remover with Duragel Technology is a great option thanks to its clear strip making it easy to conceal your warts, while targeting them.

Application Method

According to Dr. Sessa, ease of use is one of the most important things to think about. If you choose a liquid or gel, you’ll need to leave time for it to dry—or cover the wart with one of your own bandaids (or even duct tape) to protect it, says Dr. Sessa.

If your wart is on your foot, a patch that can be stuck on and left all day (while providing some padding) might be a better and more durable choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use wart remover on skin tags?

    Since the process for removing skin tags is similar to that of warts—you’re basically trying to dry the skin out enough to cause shedding of the top layer of skin, loosening the tag so it falls off—you can double up on your wart remover treatment for this other common skin condition.


    “If someone is unable to be seen by a medical professional, then an OTC wart remover can be used for skin tags, depending on their size and location,” says Seelal.


    If your skin tag is large or located on your face, you may want to see a dermatologist for treatment. You would likely have to apply a lot of product or reapply treatments several times in these cases, which could damage your skin.

  • Does wart removal hurt?

    Unfortunately, sometimes it can—although it’s not a guarantee.


    “Wart removal can hurt depending on their location and the modality used to remove them,” says Seelal.


    Typically, OTC products don’t cause much pain, but the methods used by doctors in-office to remove warts can be mildly painful. Treatments such as blistering with a product called cantharidin, cryotherapy, electrosurgery (burning) and curettage (scraping), and excision are commonly used by specialists, Seelal explains, but not without some discomfort.

  • At what point should you see a doctor to have your wart removed professionally?

    Seelal says you may not need an OTC treatment to see your wart disappear; unless you’re immunocompromised or have diabetes, many people’s bodies recognize the virus and naturally clear the wart. (In the meantime, try not to touch it too often—you could spread the virus to other people or other parts of your body.) 


    If you try an OTC treatment and it doesn’t work, you may need to get professional care from a dermatologist. This is particularly true if you’ve had the wart for a long time or the skin has become thickened over the surface. It’s also important to remember that getting rid of a wart can be a tricky and prolonged process, which Dr. Sessa says is due to its viral nature; even once your wart goes away, the virus can lie dormant in healthy-looking cells, and can become active again at any time.


    “There is not a single thing, including in-office treatments, that is effective 100 percent of the time,” says Dr. Sessa. “Warts typically require multiple treatments...we can get rid of them with active treatment, but it's rarely a ‘one and done’ kind of thing.”

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a health writer, Marlene Lenthang knows just how important it is to find the right product for your body and mind. Over the years she has written about health crises, vaccines, and product guides. She takes careful note of doctor recommendations, medical research, and customer reviews in every product review to assure readers can choose quality products and understand the science behind them.

Additional reporting by Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publishing. Human papilloma virus (HPV). Published July 2019.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV fact sheet. Updated August 20, 2019.

  3. Boroujeni NH, Handjani F. Cryotherapy versus CO2 laser in the treatment of plantar warts: a randomized controlled trialDermatol Pract Concept. 2018;8(3):168-173. doi:10.5826/dpc.0803a03

  4. Lipke MM. An armamentarium of wart treatmentsClin Med Res. 2006;4(4):273-293. doi:10.3121/cmr.4.4.273