Warts are rough bumps of skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Apple cider vinegar's effectiveness for treating warts is not known, and there are reports of risks and complications with this home remedy.
In this article, we look at how a person might use apple cider vinegar on warts, its effectiveness, and side effects. The article also looks at other ways to treat warts.
Vinegar may be used to kill some bacteria, but apple cider vinegar has not been tested for this purpose.
There is currently no scientific research to suggest that apple cider vinegar is an effective treatment for warts.
The idea behind this treatment is that the acid should destroy the wart tissue, in a similar way that salicylic acid does. At high concentrations, salicylic acid can be more effective than a placebo for treating warts.
In general, vinegar can be used to kill some types of bacteria. According to one study, vinegar may be effective against common bacteria including Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Salmonella. However, scientists have not tested this theory with apple cider vinegar.
There may also be some side effects of using acidic products on the skin, so a person considering this treatment should proceed with caution.
When using apple cider vinegar to treat a wart, a person can follow these steps:
- Gather a bottle of apple cider vinegar, cotton balls or cotton-tipped applicators, and a small bandage.
- Soak the cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, and apply this to the area where the wart is.
- Place the bandage over the cotton ball and leave it in place overnight. Some people may leave it on for up to 24 hours.
- Replace the cotton ball with a fresh one dipped in apple cider vinegar each night.
- The wart may swell or throb. The skin on the wart may turn black in the first 1 to 2 days, which might signal that the skin cells in the wart are dying.
- The wart might fall off within 1 to 2 weeks. Continuing to use apple cider vinegar for a few days after this may prevent the skin cells that caused the previous wart from shedding and growing elsewhere.
Side effects and complications
Recommended treatments for warts include freezing, salicylic acid, and duct tape.
Apple cider vinegar is a form of acid. It is usually available at a concentration of 5 percent acetic acid.
Although weaker than other acids, such as sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, it still has the potential to cause a chemical burn and damage to the skin.
Therefore, people should not apply apple cider vinegar to warts in sensitive areas, such as on the genitals or face.
In one report, a young person experienced burns to their nose after applying apple cider vinegar to a mole.
In another report, a child experienced chemical burns and irritant contact dermatitis to their leg after using apple cider vinegar directly on the skin.
One possible treatment is the application of cantharidine. This substance causes the skin under the wart to blister so that the wart comes off. This treatment must be done in a doctor's office.
The American Academy of Dermatology also recommend the following treatments for warts:
Products containing salicylic acid are available over the counter. When applied to damp skin on a daily basis over several weeks, the acid can destroy skin cells on the wart.
Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Usually, a person can follow these steps:
- Soak the wart for around 10 minutes, using warm water.
- Gently rub the wart with an emery board or pumice stone.
- Once the wart has softened, follow the instructions on the packet to apply the acid. The acid may cause mild stinging.
- Eventually, the wart should peel off.
A wart can be frozen off using a freezing spray. This procedure can be done at the doctor's office, but wart-freezing sprays are also available over the counter.
These sprays should create a blister around the wart, which will eventually fall off. Alternatively, a doctor can remove it with a laser or scalpel.
Another home remedy some people use for wart treatment is the application of duct tape. Apply duct tape over the wart and change it every few days.
While it is unclear whether this works, it is possible that it causes the skin cells of the wart to come off.
When to see a doctor
If a person uses the apple cider method to treat their wart, they should watch the skin around the wart carefully for signs of a chemical burn on the skin.
Signs a person should discontinue their treatment and see a doctor include:
- cracked, open areas of skin
- severe pain from the treatment site
- severe swelling
If a person experiences anything they did not expect related to their wart treatments, they should contact their doctor.
Warts are not usually painful, and they typically go away on their own over time. However, some warts may bleed or rub against clothing, which can be uncomfortable and annoying.
There is no guaranteed cure for warts, and they may return in the same or a different location.
Apple cider vinegar is not an approved treatment method. However, there is a range of medical treatments and over-the-counter medications available that might help.