The People's Perspective on Medicine

Poison Painful Plantar Warts With Peculiar Remedies

Plantar warts on the sole of the foot can be quite difficult to treat. They can also make walking pretty painful. No wonder people are enthusiastic about some strange remedies, so long as they work.

Trouble Treating Plantar Warts:

Q. I have a large plantar wart on the big toe of my left foot. I have had it treated twice, once with liquid nitrogen and another time with a medication that turned it into a large blister. A dermatologist performed these procedures.

Despite these treatments the wart comes back and is quite large now. The callous over it is about the size of a quarter. I would go back to the doctor multiple times to have it treated, but the blisters he causes are so painful I cannot walk.

I need a remedy to remove it that will still let me be on my feet because I need to work and also train for cross-country running this summer. I would like a recommendation of what I should use to remove the wart from my foot.

Strange Remedies for Plantar Warts:

A. Plantar warts can be notoriously hard to get rid of, even with prescription regimens like those you have already gone through. We make no promises about any of the remedies that others have used. All we can say is that some people do get benefit from such approaches. Here are some stories that may be of benefit.

We first heard about topical turmeric over five years ago:

“My daughter had three stubborn warts on the bottom of her foot that hurt her terribly. We tried salicylic acid tape from the pharmacy. It always burned off all the good skin and left the wart intact. Duct tape didn’t work, and neither did freezing them off at the doctor’s office. They kept coming back. I made a paste of fresh-scraped turmeric root and taped it on the warts. The warts were completely gone in three applications. Bright pink fresh smooth skin grew in the black-specked holes left behind after the bandage was removed. After they fell off following the turmeric treatment, the warts never came back. I bought the turmeric from the health food store and scraped off some. I taped a little lump the size of a pea on each wart and changed it each night. (I had her wear a sock to bed. Turmeric is neon yellow and stains bedding.) I have no idea why it works, but someone at work said it worked for him.”

We did discover that curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has antiviral activity (Virology, online, Jan. 14, 2008). Whether that explains the mechanism is not clear.

Here is a more recent story about turmeric:

“After six procedures in just over two years to remove five warts from my foot, three remained. I tried the turmeric, mixed it with olive oil, applied to foot. It made a mess, got all over my socks, sheets and floor but IT WORKED! I am thrilled, and the podiatry clinic is amazed. It took about three weeks, and I could tell one was gone, but it took scraping the callus to see that the other two were gone too.”

Susan offered a different story:

“My son is now 26 but suffered from severe plantar warts on the ball of his foot that spread and rooted under all of his toes. I know the picture on this site is nasty but my son’s foot was covered with those hard painful warts over nearly half of his upper foot. We tried everything, including having the podiatrist freezing and cutting weekly and all of the salicylic stuff. He would scream and cry when we had to go get it cut weekly and eventually he refused to go to the doctor’s office. The doctor said he could lose his whole foot due to the severity of the wart infection. The same doctor said we could try Tagamet (cimetidine). As a nurse I thought this was crazy but tried it and after years of those nasty warts they quickly disappeared with Tagamet 2 times daily. It only took about 2 months. I was amazed. My other two girls have had regular warts and they took Tagamet and it worked for them also. Tagamet is the only thing that has ever cured my kids warts.”

Debbie has a take from the health care perspective:

“I am a pediatric nurse and my niece had numerous huge warts that her mother had tried everything to get rid of. Nothing worked. When her mother ask me if there was anything that I would recommend I spoke with one of my doctors and we tried a dose of the Tagamet with her twice a day. She was not on it for long before her mom said it was like they just disappeared. She said she had never seen anything like it. I was amazed because I had never seen such a mass of warts like she had and the next time I saw her they were just a smooth as they could be. It was amazing. I don’t know if it works like that every time, but it sure did for her.”

Another nurse also suggested an unusual remedy:

“I’ve had a plantar wart on the sole of my foot that is painful indeed. I am an RN, so I had one of the orthopedic docs look at it. Here is his suggestion: Eat a banana and cut a piece of the peel the size of the wart. Place it against the wart, inside of peel to skin. He said the greener bananas work a little better than the ripe. I taped the peel on my foot and changed it twice a day. I wore it through the night as well.
 Bananas work slowly. I was skeptical, but in about three weeks that wart disappeared and has never returned.”

We have been collecting wart remedies for over 35 years. In The People’s Pharmacy (published originally in 1976), we suggested soaking the warts in a salt water solution (30%) or taking desiccated liver tablets orally. Since then we have collected dozens of other remedies that people insist are sure-fire cures.

Nothing works for everyone, but many visitors to this website insist that squeezing fresh lemon juice on warts three or four times a day is helpful. Others maintain that vinegar soaks will do the job. We also have heard from people who insist that applying castor oil on the wart a few times daily cures warts. Share your own favorite wart remedy below.

If you love home remedies as much as we do, you will want to know that we have collected many of our favorite wart remedies in our book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In addition to wart remedies we have something for almost anything that ails you.

Let food be your medicine!

photo credit: happyfeet34 cc cropped

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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When I was a teenager (this had to be sometime in the 80s) I had really bad plantar warts all over the bottom of both feet. I couldn’t wear shoes. I used to go to a local podiatrist weekly. After a foot bath and scraping my feet he would put these medicated pads on my warts that burned like the dickens. I couldn’t walk. I cried constantly. It was hell.

Then my mother took me to a doctor who had some sort of “new” procedure to try. First they did a laser burn-off of most of the warts. Then while they were doing that they took a sample of one of the larger wart tissues and implanted it under the skin on the upper side of my foot. In a few weeks the warts slowly faded. At the time they told me the experimental procedure was to immunize my body against the virus and make my body fight it off.

Whatever it was, it worked. Here I am some 40 years later, and you can’t even tell I used to have the most massively ugly feet you could imagine, except for the tiny scar where they implanted the wart fragment in my foot.

As a child I had plantar warts on the pads of my feet, right in the middle where the crease is located. My parents took me to our podiatrist and family friend to treat it. I’m still amazed at his prescription….castor oil on a cotton ball taped around the warts. Nothing else. It might have been a little uncomfortable, but I don’t remember that. They totally disappeared and haven’t had one since on my feet. I did have one on my finger and used the same technique…and it worked. I also had one or two frozen that were on my fingers, and believe me, that was very painful. Wouldn’t do that again.

Is the Tagamet taken orally? All the other treatments mentioned are topical, so I wasn’t sure.

I had what was apparently one of these about 55 years ago, and treated it with a few generous applications of tincture of iodine (which was the stinging but perhaps more effective remedy for cuts/scrapes vice mercurochrome.) Worked like a charm!

I had a big plantar wart on the ball of my foot tirty years ago that I had burnt off, scraped off amd it stall kept coming back. Then I took a professional course in Amma, traditional Japanese massage. 109 hours later, the wart disappeared and never came back. I have been impressed with the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach ever since. I eventually became a practitioner, teacher and school owner and saw how TCM alleviated dysmenorrhea, chronic migraines, and other chronic physical ailments, not to mention the instant attitude adjustment effects of positive touch.

Some years ago I visited a podiatrist, who was also a friend, to treat a planters wart. We talked about acid, copper anklets, surgery, tea tree oil, and lots of other “remedies.” Then I asked him what the science said. He replied that the research finds low correlation between the treatment modality and outcomes. “Bummer,” I said. “But,” he said, “there is a high correlation between the practitioner’s confidence in the treatment and the outcome.” “Wow. So, what are you going to do for my planters wart?”
“I haven’t decided yet,” he said, “but you can be damn sure it will work!” It did work. And I learned a lot about medicine in general from that conversation.

I suffered from a plantar wart on my big toe for several years while in my 20s. I eventually got rid of it by making a poultice of a clove of raw garlic and bandaging it on 2x a day. After 3 days of this it was gone and hasn’t come back in 40 years.

I have eliminated plantar warts by applying a drop of oil of oregano to the surface of the wart only and covering it with a band-aid before bed. It also worked very quickly, perhaps 3 applicatitons. I was amazed, as I have also been through the scraping and acid, and this was so easy!

I was using Compound W w/o much success when I read about adding duct tape. I continued w/ the Compound W and covered the warts with duct tape, and the warts disappeared and never have returned. If they did return I might be tempted to start with the duct tape alone. Not sure what the tape brought to the mix but if it works …

When I was a teenager, I developed plantar warts across the ball of my foot. My mom told me to take glycerin and put it on a cotton ball, then tape it to my foot. After a couple of weeks, maybe three, they just came off. I still remember how wonderful it felt when they came out. They were very painful, but once gone there was no,pain nor scarring. I haven’t had a problem since. That was probably sixty years or so ago.

Hi Joe,

Plantar warts can be downright painful and ugly. I use to have one and could not walk because of the pain! Fortunately during my research came across Verruca’s Kryptonite which is a method that uses natural ingredients. It got rid of my plantar wart in like 3 days! Honestly, the home remedies or holistic approaches are the best way. There are so many different affordable natural ingredients out there like turmeric or garlic that do a great job of getting rid of warts. Have you tried using aspirin or peroxide/ Those work well too.

So I ha e had a wart on ball of my foot since I was 12. Never hurt never grew. Went to podiatrist for plantar fasciitis. He saw it and start d treating it. Every 2 weeks since November I have gone in and got it scrapped and treated. It’s never been worse! Large painful. Stared acv today. Omg hello pain. But s ends are already popping up and it is turning black. So excited hoping to pop it out soon.

Have a wart just underneath my toes. Very painful. Using wart off but progress is slow!

This is obviously not going to work for everyone, but it speaks to the viral nature of plantar’s warts. I had three very painful warts in my heel that had tried scraping out, duct tape etc etc. They had actually originally popped up about 10 years ago and then disappeared, only to come back in the exact same spots. I was training for a marathon and my weight was very, very low. I have had issues with digesting proteins over the years and I was not putting on muscle as I trained.

So after getting sick several times over a short period I decided to quit training and put on some weight. I put on 8 lbs, and the warts just disappeared in less than two weeks.
It just goes to show you how a weakened immune system can result in these particularly viral warts. I have started training again, and I can feel one coming back, though in a new spot. Its pretty common when you exercise a lot to get sick, so I’m just focusing on keeping my weight up, my protein intake up, and making sure I take my b-vitamins. It seems to be keeping it at bay.

The dessicated liver tablets is interesting! I believe that would help prevent warts and possibly get rid of small warts due to improving the immune system, but I wonder how well it would work alone for big stubborn warts or stubborn plantar warts (verrucas can be very difficult to treat!)

I learned how to get rid of plantar warts and had some success after two years of “guess and check” remedies, but eating to improve immunity always helped to at least deal with the pain of the warts at least. What ended up working fantastically was hitting the wart duct tape method style for 24 hours a day for a few weeks and adding in epsom salt soaks and eventually salicylic acid pads once the head was penetrable.

I was beginning to think the verruca wasn’t curable, but this method worked wonders.

Hope this helps!

-Rob

Tagamet is for acid reflux and heartburn, etc. Would another substitute medicine work as well (i.e. another medicine for acid control, such as Prilosec or the Equate knockoff)? Tagamet seems hard to find.
Everything I use topically seems to cause the warts to spread; Apple cider vinegar has so far been the most effective but it’s messy, smelly, and very painful. I used it for months and it was taking a long time to work. Because one of the warts (the main “source”/ the original) is deeply rooted, almost infused to my foot, I feel that something oral would be most effective, to kill from the inside. Hopefully one of these works!

I have had plantar warts on and off for 10 years. The 1st was the size of my heel! A podiatrist cut it completely out while was under for another procedure. I thought wow this should work, well after the skin of my heel repaired itself a few months later it came back, but this time it was clustered.
I took matters I to my own hands. I applied wart medicine to it every night and covered it with duct tape. About a month or so later it was completely gone! That was about 8 years ago. Well about 6 months ago I have another, it’s not in the same spot though. Hopefully that will work again.

I had just one smallish plantar wart on the bottom of my heel. When it got so sore I had to walk on my toes, I went to a podiatrist. On the first visit he froze it. It never healed, but came back bigger.
Second visit he cut into it and then stitched it up. The wound broke open and didn’t heal again. After less than a week after he cut into it, the one turned into at least 5 in a cluster, and then began to spread all over the bottom of the foot.
By this time I was searching for alternatives and came upon the Plantar Wart List Serv. I read about using vinegar. I began soaking my foot in full strength apple cider vinegar and then taping the little red dots of acid overnight and during the work day. I soaked every night for at least an hour and in two weeks time they were all gone.

I swear by Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar! I have completely cured myself of three incidents of plantar warts with daily application with a soaked cotton ball and duct tape. I also take a small shot of the vinegar internally too.
The skin where my warts appeared is now soft and fresh looking. No scars and I will never not have a few bottles of this in the house. Great stuff.

My daughter had numerous plantar warts and we tried unsuccessfully to treat them via foot specialists (MD’s). After having her feet literally carved out we went another route and used THUJA (a small white sublingual pill) that was prescribed by a naturopathic physician and it worked immediately. I have offered this advice to friends over the years and it has worked for them as well. Banana peels and Tagamet? Really? Check it out. IT WORKS. I only wish I had known about this earlier to prevent her pain and inconvenience and money as well.
People’s Pharmacy response: This is a homeopathic medicine for warts:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22556920

Plantar warts can be painful and very stubborn. Mine started out as just one bump on the bottom of one big toe last July. My dermatologist explained they come from a strain of HPV, and he tried to freeze them off my toe twice using liquid nitrogen. I started using Compound W sporadically. I also had an aggressive pedicure done by a Vietnamese-American man; still the warts came back. On his advice, in late March I started to attack the virus using a number of remedies. Twice a day I used either an over-the-counter freeze-off product, Compound W gel (easier to use than the liquid), apple cider vinegar (soaking my toe and/or bandaging a soaked cotton ball onto the plantar’s warts), or the inside of a green banana peel taped to my toe overnight. Throughout all of this I cut off dead skin using a little razor my dermatologist gave me; you can also still buy razor blades nowadays if you look for them. As of mid-May my toe was back to normal again: Hooray! I don’t know if all of those remedies were necessary but somehow or another they worked and cured my toe.

I was just at my second podiatrist in treating plantar warts and she had mentioned the success rate of treating warts via oral Cimetidine (AKA TAGAMENT) She had printed the studies and sent me off. From what I read this treatment is extremely effective in treating children, not so much in adults. The theory is a child’s immunity is more easily manipulated. As I don’t like side effects I will not be trying this, possibly if the success rates in adults were higher I would.

In 2008 my daughter had MONO. The health food store owner recommended these supplements to boost her immune system for the MONO. By the end of a few weeks, we looked at the bottom of her foot (that looked a LOT like this picture) and the HUGE wart had completely disappeared. It was amazing and unexpected!!! Don’t know which one helped the wart but this is what she took.
Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon Herbs…Activated Minor Bupleurum $21 (6 tablets a day)
and
Solaray Acidophilus $11.99 (3 tablets a day)

My husband nor I have ever had these warts, but my brother did for years as a teen. He suffered. I’m glad to see there are other methods that work. His went away with time. My husband has horrible thick, curved nails now that me nor a podiatrist have been able to do anything with. I gently file with a metal file when I can to try to keep them somewhat under control.

Were there any side effects of these pills? I am convinced the clearing of warts is an inside job.

I used iodine to get rid of multiple seed warts on the back of both hands 60+ years ago and they haven’t returned yet.

I had warts all over my knee and planar warts for many years. Tried all the standard podiatrist treatments: burning, cutting, salicylic acid, compound W etc. Finally read about a Native American remedy rubbing the white “juice” of milkweed plant on them. I did this several times over as many days and all of them completely vanished and have never returned. Have used this remedy on children since and it also worked for them. Causes a very mild itch and a dermatologist suggested to me that perhaps that very slight irritation brings the immune system into gear to fight the virus causing the wart. June is best time to find milkweed growing wild – in sunny areas such as fields and along side of the road. It free, fast and effective!

Some years ago our granddaughter had several plantar warts on the bottom of her foot from going barefoot in sandy dirt around their home. Her mother was one day away from taking her to a Podiatrist, but our granddaughter began to treat the warts with tea tree oil. After a short time, the warts actually came to the surface of her skin, and she just picked them off with her fingers.

I would like any remarks and advice on how to treat and get rid of a skin disease, called lichen planus, a breaking out and only described as bumps that itch and will not go away. Have used steroids etc and nothing helps. this is something that resembles excema but isn’t. One dermatologist says that some times it will disappear and never return, and another says it will last and there is nothing he can do. It’s really bad at times ,and seems to get better but then again it really comes in bumps and covers a place where they gather, and itch, it looks bad also. Any remarks or solutions will be appreciated.

Hello Maxine,

What really helped me:
A cream based on Nerisone (active ingredient: Diflucortolone)
Called Nerisona cream in some parts of Europe, available by prescription. Comes in potencies of 0.1% and 0.3%.

A stubborn lichen planus rash that had been chronic for 1 year disappeared completely after only 3 applications, with no recurrences. The cream was mixed at a pharmacy and included:

Nerisone cream 30g
Salicylic acid powder 2g
Doritin cream base 28g

Good luck!

When I was a young girl in the 60’s I had a Plantar Wart right in the middle of my heel. Mom took me to the Doctor and he numbed my whole heel so I couldn’t feel anything and then he used some kind of a tool that burned the wart completly out. I remember the awful stench!! But now I’m 56 years old and that wart never come back. And my foot looks just fine and I can walk just fine. In fact, I can’t even remember which heel it was on!!!

I used the banana peel on a facial wart near my eye, & a huge large raised black mole on my rib cage area, it worked slowly. Both are gone & skin very smooth & nice. No marks remaining, it was a year ago, never came back.

I had a plantar’s wart and the physician applied Spanish fly (aka cantharides solution). Hurt like hell for 24 hours but it killed the wart.

I got rid of one myself in a just few weeks after having zero luck at the podiatrist. Every night at bedtime, I cut a piece of a thin cotton facial pad (like Swisspers) to the exact size of the wart, wet it with vinegar, pressed it onto the wart, wiped away any excess vinegar that squeezed out, and then taped it to my foot overnight.
It made the wart turn white and hard (it will do this to adjoining skin too, so be careful), and it started to shrink, disappearing completely in a few weeks. The hardening of the wart did make my heel a little tender, but the wart already did that to an extent anyway, so it was definitely worth it.
It came back a few months later, but then I repeated the treatment, and now I’ve been wart-free for years.

I used very hot water (just shy of burning hot) to soak my daughters’ feet and get rid of their warts. They soaked about 15 minutes per day, for about a week, and they just started disappearing. Even though they tired of the soaking ritual before the wart was completely gone, it just kept disappearing. And it never came back.

Keep a moist bandage over the wart continuously for several days at a time. I found this effective on three occasions for modest sized warts.

I treated two plantar warts on a big toe that I had tried all the treatments on with little success, including among these; combinations of Compound W & duct tape, banana peel, garlic, etc. I will admit that because of chronic fatigue, I likely did not stick with the treatments long enough as I would forget. But after years of this, I have recently expanded my knowledge into essential oils and I put oregano essential oil neat plus Compound W maximum strength and covered this with the soft white paper tape for wounds, and the warts rapidly went away. Folks, this is for those that are the most recalcitrant to cure!
I guess the Tagamet, so many on this thread have used with success, must help with acidity and histaminic action, from reading about it – the pharmacists likely can explain that. For me, if I can use anything that is more natural and doesn’t interfere with my digestive system, I prefer to, so maybe others of like mind may find this useful. Indeed, the oregano along under the tape may be all that is necessary. I quickly add that it is generally recommended that essential oils are to be used in a carrier oil such as a quality castor oil, coconut oil, etc. (1 drop to 1/4 tsp ratio generally), but if one is using only a couple of drops for a plantar wart and the essential oil is quality, this is likely o.k. (Whole Foods carries quality oregano essential oil, and, of course, you can order from reputable companies online.). You can always try the oil in a carrier oil first to see if you react in any way.
Further note on garlic. From my experience with garlic, which I consider one of nature’s premier medicines/foods, likely if I had used the juice of the garlic in some way like an essential oil, it may have cured the wart also. I use garlic as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-pathogen. It is amazingly effective if one has a gum problem. Just slice off a piece and place the wet side against the area that is uncomfortable (using common sense, i.e., if the wound is exceedingly raw, be careful). I quickly add that I always use organic, and don’t know if that makes a difference.
Also, it is important that the garlic is not too old as old garlic can be pretty biting. You will know quickly and can remove it if it is uncomfortable. Good luck to everyone.

Many years ago I had a plantar wart on the heel of my foot. I took an oral supplement of Vitamin A&D and after a few weeks it dried up and never returned.

Over 60 years ago, I too developed plantar warts on my feet. My mother had me open a Vitamin A maybe cod liver oil capsule and place the oil on the wart and then ingest the rest of the capsule. Wart was bandaged 24 hours and changed every day using the same remedy. In 2 weeks, warts were gone. I was a teen student studying late into the night. Apparently, night lights and stress burn up Vit. A. I used the same remedy on my friends’ teenager with the same results.

Tagemet was mentioned and one person used the word “took”. Does that mean orally, or was it crushed and applied?
Peoples Pharmacy response: Tagamet (generic cimetidine) is taken orally.

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