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How Can You Make Plantar Warts Disappear?

Remedies to make plantar warts disappear range from simple–soaking the foot in hot water–to complex, such as silver duct tape.
How Can You Make Plantar Warts Disappear?
Photo credit: happyfeet34 cc cropped

Most warts don’t hurt. However, a person with plantar warts, those that develop on the soles of the feet, may find walking painful. A dermatologist could perform surgery or cryotherapy (freezing), but recovery time from such procedures is a big disadvantage. Is there a simpler way to make plantar warts disappear?

What Can You Do to Make Plantar Warts Disappear?

Q. For about a year now, I’ve been getting plantar warts. It started with just one but now there are more.

The dermatologist has been freezing them off, but they’ve come back. I’d like to get rid of them quicker.

Apple cider vinegar worked for a few but not all. Is there any method that might work better?

Remedies to Make Plantar Warts Disappear:

A. An online resource for doctors suggests using the least expensive and least painful treatment first (Al Aboud & Nigam, StatPearls, March 29, 2017). We interpret that as home remedies for starters.

Since you have already tried soaking the soles of your feet in dilute vinegar (equal parts vinegar and water), you might try other home remedies. Most of these use kitchen products such as bacon fat, banana peel, minced garlic or turmeric powder. They are applied overnight under a bandage.

Will Castor Oil Make a Difference?

Q. My husband had plantar warts on his feet that resisted all the dermatologist’s treatments. He finally tried this home remedy which worked after several weeks.

He daubed the warts with castor oil and then covered them with duct tape. After a few days he would reapply the castor oil and tape. This did the trick.

A. We have heard from many readers that castor oil or duct tape can be helpful against warts. This is the first time someone recommended combining these two approaches in one remedy. Perhaps the dual action is better than either alone. Thanks for sharing this hybrid remedy.

Duct Tape for Plantar Warts:

Duct tape has stirred a lot of controversy among dermatologists. One small randomized controlled trial showed that it worked significantly better for children than freezing the warts (Focht et al, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Oct. 2002). That study used the usual silver duct tape.

Another study using clear duct tape in adults found it was no better than placebo (Wenner et al, Archives of Dermatology, March 2007).  We could conclude that duct tape doesn’t work against warts, or that it doesn’t work for adults or that clear duct tape doesn’t resemble silver duct tape. Without further research, we won’t know which hypothesis is most plausible.

Soaks to Make Plantar Warts Disappear:

Some readers have had success soaking the area in old-fashioned Listerine. Hot water may also help. Back in 1962, a physician wrote in the Cleveland Clinic Quarterly that soaking the foot in hot water (110 degrees F) for 30 to 90 minutes a week could eliminate a plantar wart. It may take six weeks to see the results.

There are, unfortunately, no comparative studies to determine which of these might be most effective for you. As you have discovered, warts often come back, regardless of the treatment you use. We have gathered a number of wart remedies in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You might find it in your local library or look for it in the Books section of our online store.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies

Home remedies can be surprisingly effective for a number of common ailments. They're less expensive with fewer side effects than prescription drugs. Time-tested solutions for minor health problems.

The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
  • Al Aboud AM & Nigam PK, "Wart (plantar, verruca vulgaris, verrucae)." StatPearls, March 29, 2017.
  • Focht DR et al, "The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart)." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Oct. 2002. DOI: 10.1001/archpedi.156.10.971
  • Wenner R et al, "Duct tape for the treatment of common warts in adults: a double-blind randomized controlled trial." Archives of Dermatology, March 2007. DOI: 10.1001/archderm.143.3.309
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