Plantar warts

Originally Published: October 5, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: November 20, 2007
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Alice,

How can you treat plantar warts on feet naturally or homeopathically?

— Footsie

Dear Footsie,

There are a number of 'natural' treatment options that can help rid your soles of stubborn warts. First a quick primer on what you're up against: Plantar warts are a type of viral infection that cause hard, rough-surfaced skin areas to emerge on the soles of the feet. Often the warts appear with a black dot in the middle, sometimes referred to as "the seed." Plantar warts can be especially painful and tender due to their location, occasionally leading to back or leg pain. Infection with plantar warts most often comes from contaminated floors in swimming pool areas and communal showers. Although these types of warts can be pesky and painful, there are many different methods of treatment that have been shown to be effective in reducing the size and number of warts.

As for natural wart removal, you can try:

  • Applying a small piece of duct tape to the wart. After six days, remove the duct tape and soak the wart in water and then gently rub the wart with a pumice stone or emery board. Repeat this process for up to 2 months or until the wart goes away.
  • Applying 2-4 drops of tea tree oil (tincture of thuja) to the area and then fasten a slice of garlic or banana peel to the area using tape. Follow this routine at bedtime for up to three weeks.
  • Hypnotherapy. This method has been shown to be effective as a complementary or alternative treatment.

These remedies are thought to activate the body's immune system, encouraging an attack on the viral infection. It's possible to use these methods in conjunction with salicylic acid treatments, available over-the-counter at pharmacies. Other self-care treatments include eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, complete with regular exercise, to help strengthen the body's immune system.

To keep warts from spreading before or during treatment, avoid direct contact with your (and others') warts and don't pick at the warts. Never cut a wart yourself, as there is a danger of bleeding, scarring, and infection. To relieve discomfort from the warts, some people have tried wearing a foam pad or donut in their shoe. Remedies with skin-softening agents in them may also help relieve discomfort.

If your plantar warts continue to plague you despite these efforts, a visit to your health care provider and/or dermatologist may be warranted. Tell your provider if and which methods of treatment you have already tried, and discuss with her/him other types of medical treatments including drug therapy, cryosurgery ("freezing" the wart), electrosurgery, laser treatment, or cutting out the wart.

The good news about plantar warts is that they often disappear within two years on their own, called "spontaneous remission." The bad news is that warts, whether treated or not, can persist and recur at any time. To prevent getting plantar warts in the first place, try to keep your feet clean and dry by changing your shoes and socks frequently, and wear sandals or flip flops when walking in public showers, locker rooms, and pool areas.

Hope you'll be playing footsie again soon.

Alice

July 28, 2006

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Alice,

Thank you for your advice on these warts. My mom tried covering the plantar wart with duct tape for a few weeks. This worked completely, and was much better after a week. My mom...

Alice,

Thank you for your advice on these warts. My mom tried covering the plantar wart with duct tape for a few weeks. This worked completely, and was much better after a week. My mom teaches dancing and naturally needs her feet not to hurt. We were both surprised that something so simple worked. The theory is that the cells in the wart were being deprived of oxygen.

Thank you for the site and the information.

Ben

May 9, 2004

20627
Dear Alice, I am commenting on the question about natural ways to rid plantar warts. I have had one on my foot for most of the last 10 years. Today, however, I spoke to my new doctor about it and...
Dear Alice, I am commenting on the question about natural ways to rid plantar warts. I have had one on my foot for most of the last 10 years. Today, however, I spoke to my new doctor about it and she said that at a recent conference, she heard that putting duct tape over it works. Curious, I did some Internet research... Looks like it might be effective due to starving the wart of air. One reading I found recommended putting a single layer of duct tape over the wart and leaving it for 7 days. After 7 days, take the tape off and leave it open to the air for 12 - 24 hours. Then apply two layers of duct tape, leave on for 7 days, and it should pop out or be gone at that time. If not, continue treatment until it is. I'm starting today, so we'll see!

July 27, 2001

20371
Hi Alice, I just read your answer to Footsie regarding the feasibility of treating plantar warts on feet naturally or homeopathically. You answered with a good summary of where plantar warts come...
Hi Alice, I just read your answer to Footsie regarding the feasibility of treating plantar warts on feet naturally or homeopathically. You answered with a good summary of where plantar warts come from, how they are typically treated, as well as some ways to avoid contracting them in the first place. However, the treatments which you discussed are all traditional ones, and you failed to address the question of natural or homeopathic solutions. Here is my story: I contracted plantar warts (most likely from a campground shower in June 2000) and by September 2000, I could barely walk. My doctor tried salicylic acid, cutting, freezing, laser, genital wart cremes, sanding, shoe inserts/insoles, etc... nothing worked. This went on until May 2001. Being at a loss, my MD finally offered two possible "non-traditional" treatments which he said had shown promise. One (which requires allergy to poison ivy, which I am not allergic to) involves breaking off poison ivy stems [using gloves, of course!) and carefully applying the poison ivy oils to the wart site(s)]. My dermatologist indicated that the immune system reaction brought on by poison ivy (in those who are allergic) would cause the warts to go away. Old wives' treatment, I'm sure, but claimed to work. The other "non-traditional" treatment recommended to me was hypnotherapy (self-hypnosis). I chose this one, and met with a psychologist in early June 2001. After a single half-hour session, the pain of the warts was gone. The warts remained, but I was given a self-hypnotic five-minute routine to practice every evening at bedtime, a routine which involved simple relaxation techniques and visualizing the warts shrinking and being purged from my foot. Today is July 17, 2001 (less than 5 weeks after starting my hypnosis routine) and I am completely WART FREE. I am an engineer by training, and very skeptical of anything new age or homeopathic or non-scientific, but I am amazed to report to you that hypnotherapy for treatment of plantar warts has worked, at least in my case, and I am a true believer in its efficacy. Hope this helps.
See ya, Ex-Wart-Guy