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Topical vitamin A treatment of recalcitrant common warts

Anca Gaston1 and Robert F Garry2*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 3 K7, Canada

2 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:21  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-21

Published: 17 January 2012



Common warts (verruca vulgaris) are benign epithelial proliferations associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Salicylic acid and cryotherapy are the most frequent treatments for common warts, but can be painful and cause scarring, and have high failure and recrudescence rates. Topical vitamin A has been shown to be a successful treatment of common warts in prior informal studies.


The subject is a healthy, physically-active 30 old female with a 9 year history of common warts on the back of the right hand. The warts resisted treatment with salicylic acid, apple cider vinegar and an over-the-counter blend of essential oils marketed for the treatment of warts. Daily topical application of natural vitamin A derived from fish liver oil (25,000 IU) led to replacement of all the warts with normal skin. Most of the smaller warts had been replaced by 70 days. A large wart on the middle knuckle required 6 months of vitamin A treatment to resolve completely.


Retinoids should be further investigated in controlled studies to determine their effectiveness in treating common warts and the broad range of other benign and cancerous lesions induced by HPVs.