If you have genital warts, know that you are not alone. Genital warts (condylomata acuminate) are very common. According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, there are up to one million new cases of genital warts diagnosed each year in the United States, and many cases are not diagnosed.
Most cases of genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 120 strains of HPV, but types 6 and 11 are the strains that cause genital warts. Those strains of HPV don't usually cause cervical cancer, but they do lead to genital warts.
It may be necessary for you to visit your doctor for treatment for genital warts. You may also want to treat your genital warts at home. Read on to learn about seven home remedies that may help treat genital warts.
1. Tea tree oil
Along with other health benefits, essential oils have been studied for use as antifungal agents. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has been found to be useful against fungus and other organisms, including head lice. The Mayo Clinic lists tea tree oil as a remedy that might be useful against genital warts. You can apply a drop of diluted tea tree oil (mix one drop of the oil with a drop or two of a carrier oil, such as coconut oil) and apply directly to the wart.
Some people may be allergic to tea tree oil, so test a small amount of the diluted tea tree oil on your arm first. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, it should be safe to use.
Tea tree oil can be irritating and cause some burning or inflammation which is how it reduces the size of the wart. Do not take tea tree oil internally by mouth or through the vagina. You will need to apply the oil repeatedly for several weeks. Discontinue use if it is too irritating.
You can also purchase green tea extract over the counter and use at home by adding a drop or two to coconut oil and applying to the warts.
There is some evidence that applying garlic extract to warts can help clear them up. You can purchase garlic extract and apply directly to the warts. You could also soak some gauze pads in a mixture of garlic and oil. Then apply and let sit on the warts.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may treat genital warts at home. It’s similar to prescription medications that use acidic ingredients to kill off the virus.
You can soak a Q-tip, cotton ball, or gauze in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the warts.
Vegetables are good for you in a number of ways. Try eating crunchy vegetables like:
- Brussels sprouts
These vegetables contain Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which can help clear up genital warts. It’s recommend you eat 4-5 servings of veggies every day.
Folate and B-12
There is an association between folate and B12 deficiency and an increased risk of contracting HPV. Taking a multivitamin or folate and B-12 supplements might help your body fight off an HPV infection and clear up warts.
Dietary and lifestyle support
Having genital warts puts a strain on your body. It can be difficult for your body to deal with any other health problems along with the warts. To help your body heal faster, you should cut out any immune stressors like smoking or a diet that is heavy in processed or unhealthy foods.
Foods to incorporate into your diet include:
- antioxidant rich foods (blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers, squash)
- dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
- whole grains
- lean meats
These foods can help boost your immune system and help minimize the recurrence of HPV.
Foods to avoid include:
- any possible food allergens (dairy, soy, corn, food additives)
- refined foods like white bread and pasta
- red meat
- processed foods with trans fats
- caffeine and other stimulants
Risks and warnings
It's important to remember that getting rid of an external genital wart doesn’t mean that you no longer have an infection. Although rare, HPV can cause both genital warts and cervical cancer. You may have more than one type of HPV. It's important see a doctor for your warts even if you treat them at home.
The virus that can cause genital warts can stay dormant in your body for a long time. So if you treat your warts and get rid of them, they may come back.
How are genital warts traditionally treated?
According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, there is no one standard treatment for genital warts that doctors agree on. Different doctors might use different treatments for genital warts depending on the type of warts or how long you've had warts. Treatments range from medication to "freezing" the warts to cutting them off or removing them with lasers.
The bottom line
You can help treat genital warts at home. But you should still see a doctor to check for and treat any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that may be causing the warts. If an STI is causing your warts, you may need additional medication to treat the condition and prevent passing the infection on to any sexual partners.
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