Is Silver Nitrate an Effective Treatment for Warts?
Silver nitrate is a non-prescription, corrosive chemical that’s most commonly sold in dried form on the tip of a stick resembling a very large match. It is traditionally used to sterilize the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. It can also used to cauterize wounds. Since silver nitrate is corrosive, many people use it to eliminate warts as well. It won’t remove warts in every case, but it has been proven in controlled clinical studies to be an effective treatment for roughly 69% of patients. In this article, we will explain how to use silver nitrate to remove warts, where to find it, and how to make the treatment as safe and effective as possible.
Table of Contents
How to Remove Warts with Silver Nitrate
First, before you start treatment, be aware that silver nitrate will stain your skin and your clothes, so don’t wear anything nice while you do the treatment.
- Use sandpaper or a nail file to slough off the dead skin on top of the wart.
- Wash the area well with water and soap and completely dry it.
- Then dip the tip of the silver nitrate pencil or stick in a small amount of distilled water to moisten it for application.
- Once the tip of the pencil is moist, place it on the wart and hold it in place for a couple of minutes.
- Take away the pencil and cover the wart with a band aid, gauze or duct tape.
- Repeat the process once a day. You can do it twice a day if it’s not too painful.
Do not use your tongue to dampen a silver nitrate pencil. Silver nitrate is corrosive and will hurt your tongue.
Some silver nitrate pencils recommend several treatments a day spaced out by several days. It’s best to read the package before you use them so you can follow the most recommended instructions. Silver nitrate is clinically proven to be effective in most cases, but if it doesn’t work, you can also try liquid nitrogen for warts. To learn more about how liquid nitrogen helps to cure warts read here.
Top Three Products to Buy
- Avoca: It is a single, reusable stick that comes with 95% silver nitrate, 5% potassium nitrate solution. It can be purchased online for under $10.
- 100 pack Grafco Silver Nitrate Sticks: are coated with 75% silver nitrate and 25% potassium nitrate. These 100 pack disposable silver nitrate sticks can be purchased for around $27 from Mountainside Medical. This is more than enough to treat warts until they are completely removed.
- SurgiPack Caustic Pencil: This reusable caustic pencil comes in a 500 mg tube with 200 mg Silver Nitrate and 300 mg Potassium Nitrate. In can be purchased online for between $8 and $13.
How to Use Silver Nitrate Sticks
Unlike salicylic acid, these sticks must be moistened first to work. To learn more about how salicylic acid for warts works, read here. Sometimes, there is enough moisture on the surface of the skin to activate the stick. If there isn’t enough moisture on your skin, make sure that the water you dip the tip of the stick in to activate it is sterile, otherwise you could cause an infection.
Be sure to have copious amounts of sterile saline solution on hand during application. This is so you can rinse the area if you accidentally apply too much, which neutralizes the silver nitrate. Then just wash the area with a little water, dry and bandage as usual.
Since silver nitrate burns a bit on application, it’s advisable to apply a topical anesthetic like lidocaine to the area before you apply the stick. Just make sure the topical anesthetic is not a greasy formula that would prevent the silver nitrate from working. You only want to protect the surrounding skin, not the wart itself.
Silver nitrate sticks cause chemical cauterization when applied to the skin. This is why it’s important to only apply the silver nitrate to the damaged part of the skin. You don’t want to damage the healthy skin around your wart.
There are three ways you can avoid causing damage to the surrounding skin while using silver nitrate sticks:
- Rub petroleum jelly on the healthy skin around the wart before application.
- Put a corn pad over the wart before application, so only the wart is exposed.
- Be very, very careful while applying. This one sounds obvious, but there is a point. If you have shaky hands or the wart is on an area that is difficult to reach, recruit some help from a steadier pair of hands.
If your warts are painful, you might want to consider a different treatment option that’s more comfortable and gentle because silver nitrate application can be very painful on sensitive skin. Read more about colloidal silver for warts here.
Never use silver nitrate sticks on severely irritated or infected skin.
Also, avoid using silver nitrate on your face as it could cause pigmented scars.
Finally, never, ever leave silver nitrate sticks where a child could access them. They could hurt themselves by putting the active part in their mouth or on other sensitive skin, resulting in severe burns and possibly permanent tissue damage. Silver nitrate can even be fatal when ingested.
You can find further details of OTC warts remover here.