Mark Twain had an eye for identifying lies, superstitions, and general bunko—and a way of incorporating it into his writing. One of the most famous instances regards wart cures in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
Tom and Huckleberry Finn have a “discussion” on supposed cures, ranging from beans, to water in dead tree stumps, to taking a dead cat to the cemetery.
It sounds ridiculous, right? But plenty of stories persist about home remedies for warts of all types, including plantar warts. If something has ever been suspected of being beneficial in any other way, people have sworn it helps for warts!
But is there any truth to these claims? A bit more on that later, but let’s first shed some light on what plantar warts actually are.
What Does a Plantar Wart Look Like?
A plantar wart is not difficult to spot. It often looks like a small growth on the heel or another part of the foot that bears weight, such as the sole of the foot.
You will often see a small, rough growth in the skin, although sometimes a wart will look flatter and covered by a thickened callus. It will definitely not look like it belongs there, and often interrupts the natural lines and ridges along your foot.
Plantar warts do not always hurt. If they are in high-pressure areas and you stand or walk on them often, however, they may become irritated.
What Causes Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are basically little fortresses that house a virus.
The organism in this case is HPV, the human papillomavirus. There are many strains of this virus that can cause skin problems in many locations, but only certain types are responsible for warts on the feet.
While the skin is often a very good barrier toward keeping viruses and other nasty items out, HPV can sometimes find a way in via a small cut or a weak point. Even when it does find a way in, not everyone will instantly receive warts from strains of HPV. Our immune systems may eradicate the virus before it has a chance to set up shop. Different immune systems react to these strains differently.
If you have plantar warts, however, it means that the virus managed to get in and not get kicked out by your immune response.
Are you contagious? At least a little, but it’s tougher to give someone warts than you might think. It is not easily given from one person to another. More people tend to pick it up in warm, moist environments such as locker room floors or around public pools. The virus is much more adept at thriving there.
Do Home Remedies Work for Plantar Warts?
This is the big question, is it not?
In most cases, plantar warts will go away on their own. The downside is that it can take a long time. Some cases last for more than a year—even past 2 years!
This provides an interesting situation when it comes to many home remedies. Someone might try something that doesn’t actually have any effect on their warts, but believes it does once those warts go away on their own. Word spreads, more people try, some have “success,” and the hype keeps building.
We are not going to say that there is absolutely nothing out there in terms of home remedies that will have a positive effect. What we can say is that very little to none of it has any significant backing from scientific studies to suggest it does.
The good news is that, as long as your warts are not causing you any real pain or trouble, trying a home remedy will rarely cause any harm. Just make sure it’s not something that is going to burn your skin, cause irritation, or requires you to cut into or around your wart. As long as it causes no harm to you (or cats), you can try it if you’d like.
Clinical Treatments for Warts
If home remedies have not worked, your warts are too painful, or you simply just want them gone as soon as possible, we can help.
There are a few different methods of treating warts, and the best option for you may depend on how severe your case is, how long you have had it, and how far it has spread. Options may include:
- Peeling medication. This is usually salicylic acid, used to remove layers of warts a bit at a time. This may be applied in office or prescribed for home use.
- Also known as cryotherapy, this in-office procedure involves applying liquid nitrogen to warts using a spray or swab on a stick. Numbing of the area may be recommended, as this procedure may cause pain. This treatment often causes a blister around the wart, and dead skin tissue usually falls off in about a week.
- Surgical removal. The wart is cut away manually. Numbing is almost always required and scarring may be involved, so this option is usually not considered unless other forms of treatment have failed or are not feasible.
Other options might also be discussed.
The Best Treatment is Prevention
Of course, the best way to handle plantar warts is to not get them in the first place! To help improve your odds against an infection, make sure to:
- Limit your time walking barefoot in locker rooms, public pools, and other warm, damp areas that get a lot of traffic. (Shower shoes are great for this!)
- Keep your feet dry. Change shoes and socks daily, letting your shoes “air out” for at least 24 hours.
If you already have warts, you can help limit their spreading by not picking or scratching at them, washing your hands when you do have to touch your warts, and not using the same nail clippers, pumice stones, or other equipment you use on an infected foot on any place else.
Whenever you have skin or nail problems—or any other foot and ankle conditions—Family Foot & Ankle Center is here to help! Call us at (909) 920-0884 to schedule an appointment at our Upland office. No tall tales here! Only the help you need.