foot with plantar warts

Warts are not generally a topic for polite conversation. Even the name is kind of gross, especially the medical term, Verruca vulgaris.

Although warts can show up almost any place on the body, plantar warts occurring on the soles of the feet can be especially troublesome. That’s because they can be painful when they get large. They can also be difficult to treat.

One reader shared this tale of woe and intrigue:

“I was misdiagnosed several times as having a plantar wart. It hurt to walk on it, and in the summer it would swell until I’d limp.

“I tried OTC remedies and folk medicine but it just grew and grew, wider and wider, deeper and deeper. Five different podiatrists said I had a plantar wart and removed it surgically. Each time it grew back within six months. This resulted in quite a lot of scar tissue in that area, making it even more painful to walk.

“A plastic surgeon said it was a plantar wart and considered doing surgery on it, but it was so large that he didn’t think the surgery would be successful. At that point I went to a dermatologist who diagnosed it as a mosaic wart.

“I am convinced that many people have mosaic warts rather than plantar warts. Trying to cut out a mosaic wart can cause it to spread more quickly and is not an effective way to get rid of them.

“I used 20 percent salicylic acid (basically Compound W) daily and scraped the area with a scalpel. The first visit he numbed the area and removed a lot of the tissue that had made walking so painful. Although the dermatologist said it usually takes a month of daily application, it took me four months. But that was five years ago. It has never returned. I hope you can educate people about mosaic warts so they don’t have to suffer like I did.”

Mosaic warts can be hard to treat. Technically, they are a collection of plantar warts that have grown together to cover a large area. Surgery can be problematic for the reasons described. Once scar tissue has formed, it can be painful in its own right.

We’re glad the topical salicylic acid worked. Years ago dermatologists actually used X-rays for hard-to-treat plantar warts. Here’s one reader’s account:

“My son had his [plantar wart] removed by a dermatologist who used radiation for a couple of minutes. The wart died, pushed to the surface and disappeared. It was a lot better than surgery.”

Dermatologists rarely use radiation for wart removal these days. Instead, they may use lasers or chemotherapy. One reader shared this recollection:

“I had a chemotherapy agent injected into my heel for plantar warts that had multiplied like crazy. Four people had to hold me down to keep me still while this was done and then I spent days on the couch with ice packs on my foot. I had bruising and swelling beyond belief. This procedure didn’t work the first time and I had to have it repeated.”

Less invasive approaches include home remedies such as duct tape, hot water soaks, banana peel and topical turmeric. Many people report that the oral heartburn drug cimetidine (Tagamet) can also help.

Readers who would prefer to start with home treatment of plantar warts will find many suggestions in our book, the People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. ameliachristhies

    I HAVE AN ABSOLUTE CURE … FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FOR PLANTERS WARTS! My grandfather had hundreds/layers of planters warts on his hands and feet. He was a farmer and in his time, doctors had no idea of how to help him. A local doctor even drove him to a Chicago physicians’ conference from Central Wisconsin for other doctors to see and study his condition.
    Unfortunately, I inherited this terrible problem which started when I was a teenager with random planters warts on my feet. Doctors did the standard burning out the wards, putting on iodine or other treatments, and skin grafting. By age 23, I had hundreds of planters warts on my feet – an estimated low count by my physician. Then, in an attempt to lose a significant amount of weight, I went on one of those eat nothing but liquid food for three months diets. I checked in every week with a physician and received my powdered food. I religiously stuck to the liquid food, never wavered. About 1.5-plus months into the diet, when it was a hot day and I was sitting on the couch and rubbing my feet, I looked down and saw the bottom of one foot. I WENT INTO SHOCK! ALL OF MY WARTS WERE GONE! I grabbed my other foot and checked the bottom, and all of the planters warts were also gone on that foot!!!
    The following day, I called to make an urgent appointment with doctor who had seen those hundreds of planters warts on the bottom of my feet. When he saw the bottom of my feet, he went into shock!! I brought along a sample of my powdered food, the ONLY THING that changed in my life since I had last seen him.
    The doctor said the only thing that he could determine was that I TAKING THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE AMOUNT OF VITAMIN A (IN THE FORM OF BETA CAROTENE) – 25,000 IU – EVERYDAY IN THIS FOOD. AND, HE SAID THIS WAS WHAT MADE MY PLANTERS WARTS GO AWAY. Individuals should not take more than this amount of Vitamin A (unless prescribed by a doctor) because otherwise Vitamin A can be toxic! At the end of the three months, I found a multiple vitamin that has this exact level of Vitamin A in this form and have taken it everyday since. That was 30 years ago and my planters warts – not one – have NEVER RETURNED.
    My doctor had read about people with Vitamin A deficiencies and/or who do not metabolize Vitamin A well and/or don’t eat many veggies … having more planters warts. However, there had never been any serious medical research on this. From his experience with me, based on the food and my follow-up Vitamin A supplement, my doctor did write a medical paper about his experience with me as his patient.
    I AM POSITIVE BECAUSE OF MY FAMILY HISTORY AND PERSONAL HISTORY OF FIGHTING PLANTERS WARTS, that had I not been lucky enough to have randomly gone on that liquid diet and then followed with the daily level of Vitamin A I have mentioned, I would now have hundreds of planters warts on my feet AND hands. But, do not take any higher level because it would be toxic. Also, I suggest that you take it in the “form” – beta carotene – because the body can more easily metabolize it. That was the form available in the powdered food I took.
    And … if your doctor does a blood test and it doesn’t show that you have a Vitamin A deficiency, this doesn’t mean anything. Some people need more Vitamin A than others to function properly per my doctor. GOOD LUCK! Try it. There is no risk at the level suggested.

  2. C TM

    When I was a young girl, I had a problem with plantar warts on both feet. I was in the habit of going barefoot during the summer and I’m not sure if that had anything to do with the problem. They were quite painful and my complaints were ignored by my parents in spite of their knowledge of my situation. I eventually took to rubbing vinegar on the soles of my feet and within a few weeks, they had disappeared. I don’t recall where I had heard of this remedy, but it indeed worked.

  3. CM

    I had many planter warts on my feet and nothing seemed to work to get rid of them. As a last result I tried 200 mg. of Chromium picolinate daily and to my surprise, they disappeared. That was 25 yrs ago and I still take it to this day. They have never returned.

  4. Pam

    I have had success with using pineapple peel for a single plantar wart, not the mosaic ones. It has come back a time or two but always goes away by placing the pineapple peel, fruit side against the wart, over it at night for a few days. Plus the fresh pineapple is delish!

    • Van
      East Coast

      It would make sense that pineapple might work since it is acidic.

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