Plantar warts or verrucas are lumps of hardened skin, often with underlying tiny black dots, that appear on the soles of your feet. They mostly occur on the heel and the ball of the foot, the parts that are under most pressure, and are circular, slightly raised, and surrounded by a thickened rim of skin (a callus).
Like other warts, plantar warts, too, are viral infections of the humanpapilloma virus (HPV). While they are not harmful and usually disappear on their own with time, in more severe cases, they may be extremely painful – something like standing on a needle.
Home Remedies For Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are often mistaken for calluses and corns, which are also hardened portions of skin but are caused by friction and pressure alone and not a viral infection.
So, in order to effectively treat plantar warts, you need to use antiviral substances.
1. Duct Tape
Duct tape occlusion therapy (DTOT) is a real thing! Though evidence for duct tape in the treatment of plantar warts is limited and inconsistent, it has worked for some people, which is why it deserves a try.12
Soak your foot in some warm water and exfoliate the wart area with a pumice stone or any other exfoliator. Wipe your foot dry and cover the verruca with a piece of duct tape. Leave the duct tape on for at least 6 days, after which remove it and repeat the process – wash, exfoliate, dry, and apply tape. Diligently do this for a few months till the verruca is gone.
How exactly duct tape works is not yet understood. It may have something to do with softening or thinning the hardened tissue and calling for an immune system response to fight the infection. The adhesive used in the tape may also matter.
Garlic contains compounds that have shown antiviral effects and that are capable of inhibiting the multiplication of virally infected cells. In some cases, extracts of garlic have been proved to completely remove warts within 3–4 months without any recurrence.3
Cut a thin slice of a garlic clove and using a bandage strap it over your wart. You may use crushed garlic instead of a slice as well. Do this every night for at least a month or till the wart is completely removed. Remember to soak your feet in warm water and exfoliate before placing the garlic slice on your foot.
Alternatively, rub the cut edge of a garlic clove cut in half on your wart, and let it work it’s magic overnight.
3. Hot Water
This treatment does not really cure the viral infection but it does soften the skin and greatly improves the condition of plantar warts.4
Heat some water (45°C to 48°C) and pour it into a bowl. Soak your feet in the water every night before sleeping for at least 15 minutes.
4. Fig Tree Latex
In Iran, the latex or milky exudate from the fig tree is applied on warts to treat them. The exact mechanism of action of this traditional therapy is not known and may be related to the protein-destroying properties of components of fig latex.5
It may be difficult for you to get your hands on the latex of the fig tree, but if you do, give it a try. Apply it on your soles before you sleep.
Other Natural Remedies Don’t Have Scientific Backing
Topical application of apple cider vinegar (ACV) is often recommended to treat plantar warts, however, the treatment is mostly unsuccessful and the warts regrow in a couple of days.6 You might think that the acetic acid in ACV can help destroy wart tissue, but local anesthesia and surgical removal of the wart is also necessary for this treatment – not really viable for the layman.7
You will probably come across a host of other natural treatment options for verrucas like aloe vera gel, lemon juice, tea tree oil, potato skins, and banana peels on the internet. The truth is that there is no scientific evidence even hinting at their use in treating plantar warts.
What you must remember is that plantar warts are viral infections that not all natural substances can combat. If your warts persist more than a couple of months or become worse, it is best to seek the advice of a dermatologist.
|↑1||de Haen, Marloes, Marcus G. Spigt, Caro JT van Uden, Pierre van Neer, Frans JM Feron, and André Knottnerus. “Efficacy of duct tape vs placebo in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (warts) in primary school children.” Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 160, no. 11 (2006): 1121-1125.|
|↑2||Topical treatments for skin warts. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3, ↑4||Lipke, Michelle M. “An armamentarium of wart treatments.” Clinical Medicine & Research 4, no. 4 (2006): 273-293.|
|↑5||Tabassum, Nahida, and Mariya Hamdani. “Plants used to treat skin diseases.” Pharmacognosy reviews 8, no. 15 (2014): 52.|
|↑6||Gaston, Anca, and Robert F. Garry. “Topical vitamin A treatment of recalcitrant common warts.” Virology journal 9, no. 1 (2012): 21.|
|↑7||Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. “Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect.” Medscape General Medicine 8, no. 2 (2006): 61.|