Can apple cider vinegar remove warts? (+11 reasons)

In this article, we will discuss the use and efficacy of using apple cider vinegar in the removal of warts. We will also discuss other possible treatment plans.

Can apple cider vinegar remove warts?

Yes, apple cider vinegar may remove certain warts. The use of apple cider vinegar for wart removal and removal is anecdotal. It means that its use for warts removal is not proved scientifically, but rather based on personal experiences.

Most patients use apple cider vinegar because it is cheap compared to other more expensive treatment options. It is a common belief that apple cider vinegar, a weak acid and topical astringent, may have a similar effect on warts like salicylic acid.

If you are thinking of using apple cider vinegar for the removal of warts then it is always a good idea to discuss the option with your dermatologist. Use his knowledge and area of expertise to decide the most suitable method of treatment.

How does apple cider vinegar remove warts?

As apple cider vinegar is a natural product, it has many beneficial effects and limited side effects. Three mechanisms have been proposed for the possible effectiveness of wart removal by apple cider vinegar.

In the first mechanism, apple cider vinegar is believed to have an antiseptic property. This inhibits the proliferation of viruses and bacteria. Apple cider vinegar contains a diluted solution of acetic acid (4-8%).

When applied to the wart, it can limit the virus and bacteria at the infection site. However, it is important to note that apple cider vinegar does not kill the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes the formation of warts (1).

In the second mechanism, the diluted acetic acid burns and slowly destroys the wart and allows it to shed off from the infected site. The burning sensation caused by apple cider vinegar at the site triggers the immune system.

Immunity is the most important criterion and mechanism to help fight HPV. White blood cells remove the virus from the body more quickly and prevent the recurrence of warts.

When apple cider vinegar does not remove warts?

In most of the cases, apple cider vinegar might not be the best treatment option for the patient. The efficacy of apple cider vinegar also depends on the site and size of the wart. In most cases apple cider vinegar might not be the best option if applied to:

  • Broken skin: If the skin around or near the wart is broken, apple cider vinegar can cause an intense burning sensation and irritation. 
  • Bleeding wart: If the wart is bleeding due to friction with clothes, then apple cider vinegar will burn the skin rather than treat it.
  • Genitals: Male penis is a sensitive area. Applying apple cider vinegar on the skin can cause abrasion, burning, and damage to the skin.
  • Face and eyes: Applying apple cider vinegar, especially in undiluted form, can cause skin erosion, irritation, and a burning sensation.
  • Plantar warts: As the warts present under the sole of feet are thicker and rooted, simply applying apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball would not be enough.

What does research suggest?

The scientific evidence and data for the safe use of apple cider vinegar are scarce. However, few side effects have been reported in clinical studies regarding the topical use of apple cider vinegar and acetic acid.

In one such case, a 13-year-old boy sustained facial burns after using acetic acid solution for the treatment of facial warts (2).

In another case, a 14-year-old girl experienced erythema and skin irritation after applying an apple cider vinegar-soaked cotton ball to a mole (3).  

How to use apple cider vinegar for wart removal?

The patient needs to clean the area thoroughly to remove any skin oil and debris. Dilute two parts of apple cider vinegar with one part of water. Afterwards, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar.

Place the soaked cotton ball on the wart, bandage it appropriately and leave it overnight or for 24 hours. The patient might feel throbbing and swelling at the application site.

Remove the bandage and replace the soaked cotton ball if required. The area of the wart will begin to darken after 2-3 days, signifying that the skin cells present in the warts are dying.

Continue applying apple cider vinegar to the wart. After 1-2 weeks, the warts will begin to shed off. Continue applying apple cider vinegar to prevent the reoccurrence of warts.

What are the side effects of using apple cider vinegar?

Although a natural material, apple cider vinegar can still cause skin irritation and other related side effects, including:

  • Chemical burn: Because apple cider vinegar is a weak acid, it has the potential to cause chemical burn causing mild irritation and a burning sensation.
  • Pain: Apple cider vinegar should not be applied to damaged skin as it can cause intense pain and a burning sensation.
  • Dermatitis: Apple cider vinegar may cause irritant contact dermatitis due to its weak acidic nature.
  • Allergic reactions: If applied on open wounds, apple cider vinegar can cause allergic reactions including hives, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty in breathing.

Use antihistamines to get relief from allergic reactions. Take the allergy medicines with food to avoid chances of acid reflux and stomach pain.

What are the alternative treatments for removing warts?

The more reliable and effective methods for wart removal, suggested by the dermatologist, include:

  • Salicylic acid: It is used topically as a gel to peel off the skin from the wart. The patient has to take salicylic acid for 2-3 months (twice daily) for efficient results.
  • Cantharidine: It is a vesicant that causes swelling and blister formation under the wart. The wart comes off once the blister dries.
  • Freezing: It is a technique of cryotherapy and is preferred for the removal of plantar warts. One freezing session will kill the wart in 10-14 days.
  • Low-dose aspirin: It is an off-label use of aspirin for the treatment of warts. The patient can crush the tablet, add a few drops of water and apply to the wart.
  • Surgical removal: Warts can also be removed surgically with minute incisions.
  • Laser therapy: Laser is used to remove the warts under local anaesthesia.
  • Immunotherapy: It can be used to boost the immune system to identify and destroy the virus causing the wart. It is a slow process and can cause itchiness. 

I suffer from flat warts on my face. Once I used apple cider vinegar on one of the warts while getting the instructions from the internet. I soaked a cotton swab with an excessive amount of apple cider vinegar and placed it on the wart.

To my ‘disbelief’, my skin started to irritate, causing redness, and a burning sensation after some time. I removed the cotton swab immediately and washed the area. However, I could see scabbing on my face.

Therefore, it is always advised to consult your dermatologist before using home remedies, especially if they are not backed up by scientific evidence. 

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Ellis K. How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Remove Warts?


Feldstein S, Afshar M, Krakowski AC. Chemical Burn from Vinegar Following an Internet-based Protocol for Self-removal of Nevi. Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology. 2015 Jun 1;8(6).


Bunick CG, Lott JP, Warren CB, Galan A, Bolognia J, King BA. Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2012 Oct 1;67(4):e143-4.