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Plantar Wart Removal - How To Get Rid Of Plantar Warts

Updated on September 3, 2009

If you are wondering how to get rid of plantar warts, this article provides an outline of the treatment options that are available, as well as more information about the causes of plantar warts.

What Are Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts are benign epithelial tumors that develop on the toes or the soles of the feet, and are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are generally harmless, although they're very contagious, and can be painful. Planter warts are also known as verucca plantaris, and it's estimated that up to 10% of the population of the US is affected by them. The virus is very robust, and can live on damp surfaces, such as in swimming pools, showers and similar communal spaces – it is in such places that many people become infected. The virus enters the skin through tiny abrasions, and the warts may not be visible until several weeks or more after infection. They can be more painful than normal warts, as a result of the pressure that is applied on the soles of the feet, which drives them inwards. Sometimes they form clusters, which are known as mosaic warts.

It is best to visit your doctor to confirm that you have plantar warts. Symptoms include the appearance of a small lesion on the foot, with small black areas in the center, which may bleed when scratched. Walking is typically painful, although most of the pain comes when pressure is applied to the area around the wart, rather than directly. The fingerprint-like striations on the skin will also grow around the wart, rather than directly over it (this is the result of the DNA of the skin being altered by the HPV virus), although it may become covered with a layer of hard skin in some cases.

Do Plantar Warts Need Treatment?

Plantar warts are usually self-limiting and most attacks clear up without treatment eventually. However, plantar wart treatment is a good idea, as they can cause pain and discomfort, and by treating them you reduce the duration of the infection, prevent it worsening, and lessen the risk of it being passed on to others. Untreated warts may take two years or more to be killed and eliminated by the body's own defences, so it's best to give it a helping hand. There are several ways to treat (though not completely cure) plantar warts, as described below.

Is There A Plantar Wart Cure?

So far there isn't any evidence that the HPV virus can be completely removed from the body, so even though individual episodes of plantar warts can be removed, they may recur in the future. There is also no vaccine against the virus. However, plantar wart treatments can help to reduce the duration of an attack, and some may cause the virus to become inactive.

Plantar Wart Removal Options

Here are the most common ways to treat plantar warts. Not all of these will be effective in every case, so you may need to experiment to find one that works to get rid of your plantar warts.

Home Remedies For Plantar Warts

Over the counter remedies
You can buy plantar wart treatments, such as Wartner Wart Remover or Dr. Scholl's Clear Away Plantar Wart Remover, from your pharmacy or drugstore. These typically contain salicyclic acid, a chemical which acts by removing dead cells on the surface of the skin, gradually exposing the roots of the warts. Treatments typically involve using either a bottle of salicyclic acid, or adhesive pads which are impregnated with it. It is very important to treat the area consistently, and full removal of the warts may take up to 12 weeks.

Duct tape
Removing plantar warts with duct tape is a popular and anecdotally effective method. By covering the warts and surrounding area with duct tape (or other plastics), the surrounding skin is suffocated, and the lack of oxygen causes the wart to die. It can be used in combination with salicylic acid treatment (or, as a natural option, apple cider vinegar), and after covering the wart and immediate surrounding area with tape and covering it with a bandage, you must be careful not to let the skin breathe for long periods when changing the dressing. Results may be seen in around two weeks in most cases.

Clear nail varnish
Painting over the warts with clear nail polish deprives them of oxygen, and may have a similar effect to the duct tape method. Note that this may cause skin irritation in some people.

Hot water
Immersing the wart affected area in hot water of about 113F or 45C, 2-3 times a week, for 30-45 minutes per session may also help. It may take up to 16 treatments to see results.

Medical & Surgical Treatment Of Plantar Warts

Your doctor can also help you to get rid of plantar warts, and these treatments can often be effective where home remedies have failed.

Immunotherapy for warts involves the injection of antigens, which, if the treatment works, trigger an immune reaction, causing the body to attack the HPV virus. If you also have warts elsewhere on the body, these may also be removed as a result of this treatment.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment of plantar warts is quite effective, although it may take several treatments for the wart to disappear. It doesn't cause scarring, but is expensive and painful.

Cryotherapy / cryosurgery
Cryotherapy for plantar warts involves the treatment of the wart with liquid nitrogen – this extremely cold substance is applied directly to the wart, and destroys it by producing blisters underneath, and is only minimally invasive.

This involves using an electrical current to kill the wart, and then removing it surgically. It may lead to scarring.

Preventing Plantar Warts

After successfully treating your plantar warts, you should take what steps you can to minimise a reoccurrence (or to prevent them in the first place, if you've never had an attack). This means staying as healthy as possible so your immune system stays strong, so it can fight the virus. You should also protect your feet in places like communal swimming pools, showers, gym changing rooms etc, and never share shoes or socks with anyone else. Keep your feet moisturized too, to minimise cracking and dry skin, which provide entryways for the virus.

Buying Plantar Wart Remedies

Plantar warts are pretty common, very easy to catch, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but many people feel that warts carry something of a stigma, and may be reluctant to buy wart remedies from their local pharmacy. Fortunately you can also purchase a wide variety of home remedies for warts online, often at better prices than you'd pay in physical stores, especially if you buy in bulk.


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    • SamCat7 profile image

      SamCat7 7 years ago

      Sue, you should really see your doctor about that.

    • profile image

      sue 7 years ago

      I had an op about five months ago to remove a plantar wart from under my foot.My foot is worse than before! pains all the time and being on my feet has become a nightmare. Please help!!!!!!