How to Treat Plantar Warts

Plantar Warts

Multiple plantar warts on bottom of foot, prior to any treatment.
Multiple plantar warts on bottom of foot, prior to any treatment. | Source

What Is a Plantar Wart?

Plantar warts, also called verruca, are non-cancerous skin growths on the bottom, or plantar surface, of the feet. Plantar warts are flat-surfaced areas that can be tender and stubborn to treatment.

Like warts located elsewhere on the body, plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV. The virus enters your body through tiny cuts, cracks or breaks in the skin of the foot.

Often, plantar warts can be successfully treated at home, but if that treatment fails, medical attention should be sought. Additionally, individuals with diabetes, immune system deficiencies, or taking blood thinners should consult their primary health care provider before attempting to remove a plantar wart at home.


Deep, Painful Plantar Wart

This is a deep, painful plantar wart that has been made even worse by unsuccessful treatments in the past.
This is a deep, painful plantar wart that has been made even worse by unsuccessful treatments in the past. | Source

Do I Have a Plantar Wart on My Foot?

Plantar Wart Symptoms

Here's some ways to tell if what's on the bottom of your foot is a plantar wart:

  • Initially, the plantar wart may appear as a small, rounded spot somewhere on the bottom of the foot. The spot will not have the usual ridges and lines that the skin around it has. At this point, the verruca is usually painless and difficult to see, but this is the optimal time for treatment.
  • As the virus grows inward, the skin over it will begin to toughen and a callous may form over the wart.
  • Small fleshy, grainy-looking spots on the sole of the foot.
  • A rounded area where small, pinpoint blackened areas can be seen. The blackened dots are commonly thought to be wart "seeds," but they are actually dead capillaries.
  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing

If you have any doubt about whether the spot(s) on the sole of your foot is a plantar wart, check with you health care provider before you begin home treatment.

Plantar Wart Resistant to Multiple Treatments

If you look closely at this photo, you can see the tiny black dots, dead capillaries, that are noticeable in the early stages of a plantar wart.
If you look closely at this photo, you can see the tiny black dots, dead capillaries, that are noticeable in the early stages of a plantar wart. | Source

When to See a Doctor for Plantar Warts

Mayoclinic.com advises you consult with your health care provider if any of the following things are true about your plantar wart:

  • The lesions are painful
  • The lesions change in color or appearance
  • The lesions interfere with your activities
  • The warts persist, multiple, or come back despite treatment
  • You have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet
  • Your immune system is compromised because of taking immune-suppressing drugs, have HIV/AIDS or other immune disorders
  • You have any doubt that the lesion is a wart

How to Treat Plantar Warts at Home: Salicylic Acid

Some over-the-counter wart removal products contain salicylic acid either as a liquid, gel, ointment or patch. Salicylic acid will slowly debride the plantar wart.

It's important to soak your foot for at least 20 minutes prior to application of the product, then use an emery board or pumice stone to loosen the dead skin over the plantar wart before applying the product.

This process is repeated as often as the product label recommends and may take several weeks to months before the plantar wart is eliminated.

How to Treat Plantar Warts at Home: Freezing Products

Other over-the-counter wart remover products freeze the tissue of the plantar wart, eradicating it by minute amounts with each application. While similar to the freezing of plantar warts in a doctor's office, these over-the-counter products do not freeze the tissue to the same degree as what a medical professional would use.

Be sure to follow label instructions closely and always start with clean skin to avoid any contamination.

3D Medical Animation of Skin Warts

How to Treat Plantar Warts at Home: Miscellaneous Home Remedies

The following home remedies have been suggested by various sources and numerous people throughout the Internet community. The safety and reliability of any of these methods is not assured, but there are some people who swear by each.

  • Vitamin A: Apply the liquid from a vitamin A capsule daily to the plantar wart. This method can take 1 to 9 months to clear the wart. Be careful to apply the liquid only to the plantar wart and not the surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Duct tape: Cover the plantar wart with a small piece of duct tape. Remove the tape after six days and use an emery board or pumice stone to peel away the dead tissue. Repeat until plantar wart is gone.
  • Vinegar: Soak you affected foot in vinegar for 30 minutes a day. Peel away any dead tissue after soaking and repeat daily until plantar wart is gone.

Each time you use an emery board or pumice stone to help clear away loose tissue, be sure the implement is clean. Do not use the implement on any other skin as the virus that causes the plantar wart could contaminate healthy tissue.

Plantar Warts/Verruca: Causes and Treatments

How to Treat Plantar Warts: Visit a Health Professional

If at-home treatment of the plantar wart doesn't appeal to you, seems like it would take too long, you've tried it unsuccessfully, or you have a health condition which precludes you from doing home treatment, you should consult with a health care professional, most often a podiatrist -- a doctor who specializes in treatment of the feet.

Although sometimes plantar warts resolve themselves in a year or two, if the plantar wart is causing pain or discomfort or the warts are spreading, you should seek treatment to have it removed.

You and your doctor will likely discuss the various methods medically available for plantar wart removal to determine which method is best for your situation:

  • Laser surgery: Pulse dye laser treatment works by cauterizing tiny blood vessels within the wart, cutting off its blood supply and causing the infected tissue to die. This method may cause pain and scarring.
  • Minor surgery: Here an anesthetic is injected into the tissue surrounding the plantar wart, then the doctor either cuts away the wart or uses an electric needle to destroy the infected tissue and remove it. Scarring is possible.
  • Cryotherapy: The doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the plantar wart, destroying the wart's tissue. The application can be painful and blisters or may result that resolve by themselves after the therapy. **Personal note: I had a plantar wart removed by this method years ago. The application wasn't as painful to me as was the surrounding skin "thawing" after the treatment. I took acetominophen, which took the edge off the post-treatment pain.**
  • Cantharidin: This substance, an extract from the blister beetle, is often used along with salicylic acid that the doctor applies to the plantar wart. While the application itself is generally painless, the blister that forms afterward can be painful. This substance works fairly quickly to destroy the plantar wart and the doctor will remove the dead tissue on a second visit, usually within a week to ten days.
  • Aldara: The doctor may prescribe this cream that is applied directly on the wart. It works by encouraging the body to release healing proteins to the area to fight the virus causing the plantar wart. A potential drawback to this method is that surrounding, healthy tissue may become severely inflamed and tissue damage is possible. If this happens, this treatment method is halted.
  • Immunotherapy: This method is used for hard-to-treat plantar warts. The doctor may inject one of two substances into the plantar wart to harness your body's immune system to destroy the infection that is the wart. This method may cause pain.

Conclusion

Sometimes the soles of our feet get little attention. It's not until we have pain or discomfort in our feet that we get curious enough to look for the cause.

Plantar warts, verruca, are most easily treated when found early. It's prudent to examine the soles of the feet each time you bathe or shower to catch them early on. You should now have a good idea what a plantar wart looks like and have a variety of methods to treat if one develops.


Disclaimer

This hub is informational in nature. It is not intended as a replacement or substitute for medical advice. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have.

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Comments 14 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I've had a few of these nasty plantar s warts over the years. They're no fun at all. The first one I had to have a doctor burn it out several times before it was finally gone. After that I knew what it was and used over the counter medications for it. I haven't had one in quite a few years now but I still can remember what they feel like.

Very useful and informative article. Voting +++ and sharing.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Just Ask Susan, those plantar warts are nasty boogers, aren't they? The feeling is quite odd, that's for certain.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, voting and Sharing.


innerspin profile image

innerspin 3 years ago from uk

Useful information here. My younger son is prone to these warts. Each time he gets clear, another little trouble spot appears. He's very into fitness, fortunately the warts don't interfere with his training. Will show him the home remedies, thanks!


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Innerspin, I hope one of these remedies works for your son. I wonder if he may be re-contaminating himself if he wears the same shoes once he is rid of the warts that he did when he had them. He might want to consider putting insoles into his shoes that he can change out when he is free of the plantar warts to try to prevent future problems.

The HPV that causes plantar warts thrives in a moist environment, so shower floors are another place for exposure. Flip flops or shower shoes may be beneficial if he is showering at the gym.

Thanks for the read and comments.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 3 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

I always used to dab the white juice from Spurge or Euphorbia on them. Works every time. This is now used in skin cancer treatments


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Gypsy Willow, thanks for the tips. Real-life experience is valuable information to those looking for plantar wart remedies.


vertualit profile image

vertualit 3 years ago from Bangladesh

useful and informative article. thanks for posting..


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Vertualit, I appreciate your read and comments.


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK

This hub is packed with useful information. I did not know that the little dots which I had always thought were 'seeds' in a plantar wart are, in fact dead capillaries. The videos are helpful too - thank you for an excellent article which will provide a really good resource for anyone wondering whether that spot on the bottom of their foot really is a verruca - and if so, what to do about it!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Very interesting and informative hub on plantar warts. I especially liked and found interesting the home remedies for getting rid of them. I had no idea there were home products to get rid of them. I had one on the ball of my foot when I was about 10 years old. I went to the doctor's weekly to get dry ice injections. I couldn't believe how long it took to get rid of it (literally months of these injections) and then when it finally came out by the roots, I couldn't believe how deep the roots had gone into my foot. I literally had a hole in the ball of my foot when it finally fell out of my foot. It was so painful, both on my foot and getting those dry ice injections. To this day ( I'm quite a bit older lol) I can remember that awful pain of it. And the remedy was just as painful. They are nasty, awful warts that literally plant in your foot. Thank you for this informative article.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Alison, I'm with you; I thought the tiny black dots were wart seeds as well. It's good to know the information provided is a one-stop shop for determining if that spot on the foot is a plantar wart or not.

Suzette, we must be kindred spirits. I had the dry ice treatments to the bottom of my foot when I was about 12 years old. It did seem like the treatments went of forever. I particularly remember the pain in my foot from the "thawing" afterwards.

Thank you both for your read and comments.


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

Thank you so much for writing this hub. My daughter has horrible wart on her foot. We used Dr. Scholl's Freeze away. It is supposed to work with only one treatment, but has not done anything. We have tried it twice. But, this time we have made an appointment with her doctor This is a great hub.


RobsBlogs 2 years ago from Red Bank, New Jersey

What worked amazingly well for me was duct tape, epsom salt soaks and finally after softening up and suffocating the wart for a couple weeks, salicylic acid pads. I used corn pads in order to make sure pressure was put around the wart pushing it out into the acidic pad when I walked. They didn't work for me the first time. It took the duct tape and soaking to make the wart head vulnerable, allowing the acid to work.

If anyone wants to see before and after photos go to the blogger page I made to document the process...

stubbornwart.blogspot.com/


Wart Paste 16 months ago

My brother in law had 27 plantar warts on the bottom of his feet and after 2 years and trying countless painful treatments, and numerous home remedys my sister researched and ended up inventing wart paste. Within the first week his pain was gone. The second and third week they turned black and by the end of the month they fell out. After 2 months the gaping holes that were left on the bottom of his feet were completely healed over. I have had success on my own warts with this stuff and it works so well that I can't keep it a secret. Check out wartpaste.com and see for yourself. It is an all natural pain free remedy for your warts with over a 95% success rate.

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