For some reason or other warts were a common target for midwives and medicine men in the Middle Ages. There are numerous possible remedies. It is said that a wart will go away if you tie three knots in a long straight rush, make the rush into a ring and then draw it over the wart nine times before throwing it away. If that sounds too complicated you can blow on the wart nine times when the moon is full or touch each wart with a pea on the first day of a new moon, subsequently wrapping the collected peas in a cloth and throwing them away. If you don’t mind who gets your warts you can rub each of them with a thread, grain of wheat or stone and then leave the thread, wheat or stone at a crossroads. The first person to pick up the object will have the warts.

If you’re braver than I you can set fire to cobwebs on top of the wart, make a mole’s nose bleed and let the blood drip on to the wart, or stroke the warts with a tortoiseshcll cat’s tail in the month of May.

If none of those remedies works there are more modern solutions to your problems. But first a word of warning: if you have what you think is a wart but it bleeds, grows or changes colour, then you must not try treating it yourself. Visit a doctor and ask him to look at it. Warty-looking growths can turn out to be malignant and if they are seen before they have a chance to grow they can be safely and completely removed.

Most of the available remedies for warts contain salicylic acid (a keratolytic – see p51). This is an important ingredient of Avrogel, Ayr tons Corn and Wart Paint, Compound W, Dtiofilm, Salactol, Verrugon and Wartex Ointment. Salicylic Acid Collodion BPC is an economical way to obtain salicylic acid but the proprietary preparations may be easier to use and often include useful instructions. Branded preparations are often prescribed by doctors. Cupal Wart Solvent contains glacial acetic acid which can also be used for the same purpose.

These compounds all need to be applied for several weeks to the warts. They shouldn’t be used for warts on the face or genitalia but can be used with success for warts on hands or feet. (Plantar warts which are also known as verrucae are simply warts which happen to be on the feet – like warts in other places they are probably caused by a virus.)

Most warts disappear by themselves in time but if yours don’t seem to be going or if you can’t wait or if they’re in an embarrassing or tricky place, then visit your doctor. Skin specialists have a few tricks up their sleeves for getting rid of warts.