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I’ve heard competing claims about (plantar) wart treatment. Some doctors say freezing it with liquid nitrogen is to kill the wart, while trying to minimize the damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Other doctors say it is just to irritate the body enough to stimulate the natural immune system response, and that’s what gets rid of the wart. Can the body’s own immune system be enough to get rid of the wart?

The wikipedia article has a small note, in a confusing section, that reads

This last point implies that in the case of plantar warts it was likely the patients own immune system responsible for resolution and not the specific treatment.

To me this sounds like scientists don't really know which it is?

  • Your quote does not say anything about the treatment triggering the immune system. As I read it, it basically says that the treatment has little to do with the healing of the wart. Then again, harming some of your skin might trigger the immune system? Alas I was unable to find links in English, I have read articles in my language which claimed that often, warts will suddenly disappear - because the immune system got hold of it. – user1847129 Jul 1 '16 at 21:05
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    Freezing sounds like just physically removing. As does using a salicylic acid based product, which demonstrates it even more, as you have to remove some tissue everyday yourself when using that – user1847129 Jul 1 '16 at 21:06
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It does both.

The center of the wart is weakened/killed with the acid/nitrogen(cold), while the periphery is damaged (both the wart and the skin around it).

Because the wart is weakened, the body's natural reparation process slowly replaces the missing skin (under and around the wart) faster than the wart can grow, while the immune system prevents it from spreading within the area.

Eventually what remains of the wart will get exfoliated (fall off) the same way as old skin, leaving behind healthy skin with no warts.

More info about the treatments: Plantar Warts Diagnosis & Treatment.

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