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The best alternative treatment for . . . warts

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Among the oldest remedies for warts is the power of suggestion - 'charming' the warts away - which is particularly effective in children

Among the oldest remedies for warts is the power of suggestion - 'charming' the warts away - which is particularly effective in children. Indeed, some GPs still prefer to use 'magic' than chemicals. One, for example, takes an ordinary pen, inks a circle around the wart and impresses on the child that the 'wart pen' has the power to remove the wart by magic. Almost invariably, the wart disappears. A more high-tech variant is the phoney X-ray, where children are told they are being 'given' X-rays, but the apparatus is off. This works in over 50 per cent of cases (Dermatology, 2002; 204: 287-9). Hypnosis also works - and is sometimes better than salicylic acid, even in adults (Psychosom Med, 1990; 52: 109-14).

Otherwise, for all types of warts, try:

* High-dose zinc supplements: 600 mg of oral zinc sulphate (equivalent to 135 mg of elemental zinc) clears about 90 per cent of warts within two months (Br J Dermatol, 2002; 146: 423-31).

For common and plantar warts, also try:

* Garlic. Apply a crushed garlic clove or rub the wart with half a clove, taking care to avoid touching healthy skin. Cover with a plaster overnight, and repeat daily. In one small-scale trial with five-year old children, garlic was 100 per cent successful, though it took an average of nine weeks to work (Pediatr Dermatol, 2002; 19: 183).

* Duct tape (or any strong sticky tape). Stick a small square of tape over the wart, and replace with fresh tape every few days. The wart should disappear within a month. Duct tape has been tested in a full-scale clinical trial, pitted head-to-head against high-tech cryotherapy. Amazingly, duct tape worked in 85 per cent of cases compared with cryotherapy's 60 per cent (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2002; 156: 971-4).


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