If you get a cold and you put a banana in your ear, I guarantee you that your cold will go away.

Search the Internet, and you’ll find lots of products for wart removal. But which ones really work?  People may give testimonials claiming that a product is the best wart remover ever because they used it and their wart went away, but the wart remover may not actually be the reason the wart is gone.

Let me explain with a silly example.  If you get a cold and you put a banana in your ear, I guarantee you that your cold will go away.  Although this sounds ridiculous, it’s true; your cold will go away.  Of course, the banana in your ear had nothing to do with the fact that your cold went away, because your cold was going to go away anyway.

A particular type of virus causes colds, and another type of virus causes warts (HPV).  Our bodies often get rid of viruses via our immune system.  Most colds go away on its own, and so do most warts, but it can take a few months or years for a wart to go away.  Most people don’t want to live with an ugly wart for that long.

So how do you know if a wart removal product really makes your wart go away faster than it would on its own? The answer is good quality clinical controlled trials.  In controlled trials, researchers are able to tell if a product really works.

To understand how controlled trials work, let’s go back to the “banana in your ear” illustration.   Suppose you had thousand people with a cold, and 500 put a banana in their ear, and 500 of them didn’t.   If the cold lasted only few days in the group with the banana in their ear, but lasted three weeks in the group without the banana, then bananas might really work to get rid of colds faster.  The people in the group without the banana act as a “control group”, so we can see if there is a true cause and effect.  Setting up the right control is actually very complicated and this example is flawed, but you get the idea.

So the next time you see a testimonial on the web saying that someone used a wart removal product and the wart went away, the question you have to ask is, did the wart go away because of the use of the wart removal product, or was it going to go away on its own anyway?  Luckily there are controlled trials in the medical literature that tell us what really works, and the only active ingredient that has been shown to work is salicylic acid.  Learn more: What the medical studies show really works for removing warts.