Is my plantar wart treatment working or failing?
November 15, 2011 7:59 PM   Subscribe

What's going on with my plantar wart? I've been treating it for nearly two months, but now it feels sore when I try to remove dead skin, and there's what looks like dried blood on one side of the wart. Is this a good sign?

I have a persistent plantar wart that I've been treating with a combination of duct tape and salicylic acid for nearly two months. Before each salicylic acid application, I remove dead skin with a pumice stone. I've got rid of several small satellite warts already, and the main wart does seem to be shrinking, but it hasn't hurt to remove dead skin before (the wart is still clearly there and still looks 'hairy'). I also feel a slight burning sensation in the wart when the duct tape's on. Should I keep going, or should I stop any part of the treatment (pumice, duct tape or salicylic acid)? Will the whole wart just peel off eventually, or will it gradually disappear with pumice use?
posted by jlibera to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pumice is probably too rough for removing such tender skin. You're probably reaching the point where the wart is splitting and/or cracking down to the blood vessels that feed it.

If you're peeling dead skin off, you should probably do it as little as possible, cleaning off only the skin you need to with the smallest tool possible. Pumice won't give you that level of control; it will probably rip into skin and pull on healthy skin and skin you don't want to catch. That will also leave it with rougher edges that are likely more vulnerable to infection.
posted by Madamina at 8:16 PM on November 15, 2011

When I had a persistent plantar wart, I went to a dermatologist to get it frozen off. Quick and painless.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:19 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any reason you're not off to a podiatrist for this? As mccarty.tim says, it's a lot speedier. I've had two removed by a podiatrist -- one was bigger than a quarter by the time I noticed it. THat was a bit of a procedure to get removed, but no worse than getting a tooth pulled (i.e. novacaine and some pain afterwards). A smaller one, which I tried to treat myself similarly to your methods for two weeks, was gone in a minute with no numbing etc. and no pain afterward. I think it's pretty normal that you're feeling pain and having bleeding with this larger wart -- they have some sort of blood vessels (see the wikipedia entry) and are deep...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:25 PM on November 15, 2011

Depending on how long you've had it, it could take a long time to get rid of it. I probably ignored mine for months b/c it didn't hurt. Then when I tried getting rid of it, I'm sure it took twice as long as it had been growing. The things layer and layer upon themselves. Sometimes the process Tandem Affinity describes can be done in one go at a doctor's office, but sometimes they require repeated visits.
I got rid of a persistent wart by soaking my heel in apple cider vinegar every evening for 15 or so minutes. Went to bed with nothing on it, to allow it to dry out overnight. Then, the next morning, I'd use nail clippers to carefully trim off the dried/dead skin around the wart. Repeat the process the next evening, and so on. You only trim off the dried/dead skin, so there's no real pain. There was some tingling during the vinegar soak, but nothing truly painful.
I had tried the wart patches/salicylic acid route, and didn't have much success. The apple cider vinegar process really worked, but over time.
posted by msbubbaclees at 8:38 PM on November 15, 2011

Podiatrist freezing for the win, seriously. They're viral, and they root deep; get it nuked and over with.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go see a doc if it's at all an option financially. You'll be glad you did.
posted by azpenguin at 8:46 PM on November 15, 2011

I actually had great success with the method you're using. Well, I used the plantar wart pads, cut to the precise size of my wart, and then duct taped over it so it wouldn't move. I tried everything else, including getting it frozen off, and it just kept coming back. Duct tape + wart pads + months of persistence finally did the trick.

I never used pumice to remove the dead skin, though--I used nail clippers like someone suggested upthread. Allowed me to precisely target dead skin and not irritate the skin around it. Sometimes it would be really sensitive, in which case I would forgo the skin removal and let more dead skin accumulate before I tried to remove it.

Not saying you shouldn't try a doctor if you want, but just offering a data point that this method worked for me.

P.S. The nail clippers I used didn't touch ANYTHING other than the wart. I think I tossed them afterward. I didn't want to spread that sucker anywhere else!
posted by Bella Sebastian at 9:10 PM on November 15, 2011

I had a couple that I attacked with pumice, acid, swiss army knives and having my girlfriend say bad things to it.

I finally broke down and had my doctor hit it twice by freezing it. It took two times since it was so big but its been gone for 10+ years.

I just got sick of wart dust all over the place after my home surgery.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:33 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I had a plantar wart, I had to have it frozen off. The dermatologist actually went so far as to hold that little freezing device down on it for much longer than normal because he had a hunch that the wart's "roots" had reached far enough down that it was gleefully depositing baby warts all through my bloodstream and no matter what I did to it with any home treatments, I was never getting far enough down to kill those roots and stop the wart once and for all. He iced that sucker like there was no tomorrow. Bing bang boom -- wart's been gone for years and I am mighty grateful.

I did not, however, do as bottlebrushtree did, and have an SO say bad things to my wart, and I am bubbled over with glee at the thought, especially because my current ex is a wart of a different nature, and I would rather like to say bad things to him to get him to go away. But! I digress.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:55 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can get home kits to freeze off warts at a drugstore. I've used them with success on my hands and they're okay to use on plantar warts as well. So, so much better than the alternatives. You might want to let the area rest from the acid/scraping for a day or two before you try it.

When I had a plantar wart and didn't know about the freeze kits, I used salicylic acid and nail clippers for a long time with no result until I switched implements to a razor blade (actually a scalpel from an old dissection kit, the slightly curved blade was useful). Having more precision in shaving it down helped a lot and made the process hurt less.
posted by momus_window at 10:17 PM on November 15, 2011

The dried blood part you're seeing is the root of the wart, and that's why it hurts.
posted by whalebreath at 10:41 PM on November 15, 2011

Nthing a doctor visit, if that is an option, since unlike other warts, these are viral and can reoccur many times later.

Wife had multiple plantar warts recently on both feet and they went pretty deep. We tried many of these treatments as well OTC ointments/gels etc, but they did not subside. finally, we consulted the doctor. He used liquid nitrogen to freeze it - the first time it pained like hell for a week, but then subsided with warm water soaks every day. The second treatment was very less painful and the warts have subsided a great deal.

Of course, the doctor used two layers of tape to seal the liquid nitrogen and some medicine in for a couple of days.
posted by theobserver at 1:13 AM on November 16, 2011

My husband had a plantar wart that wouldn't go away after two trips to have it frozen off and plenty of over the counter remedies. If those doesn't work for you either, then try apple cider vinegar. He'd soak cotton balls in acv, then duck tape them to his foot while he slept. During the day, he'd keep duck tape over the wart and he also occasionally soaked his foot in acv. After about a week of treatment, the wart had turned into a black cone, which he then dug out of his foot with a pocket knife. This thing was huge, over half an inch long and thick. I have pictures of it somewhere. It never came back after that. He now works in the medical field and recommends acv for anyone with a stubborn wart that doesn't respond to freezing.
posted by avagoyle at 4:15 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it bothering you when you walk or run? If not, just forget about it. I had one that survived several removal attempts by podiatrists and dermatologists. Seriously, the thing was on the bottom of my foot for 5 or 6 years. Finally, a dermatologist told me that if it didn't affect my ability to walk or run, to just forget about. They eventually go away on their own.

Sure enough, within a few months of that appt it cleared on its own and never reappeared.
posted by COD at 5:55 AM on November 16, 2011

I had my entire big toe covered in persistent plantar warts, tried treating them, and gave up. My doctor froze them all out... it wasn't painless per se, rather uncomfortable, but that got rid of them ALL and they haven't come back.
posted by lizbunny at 9:10 AM on November 16, 2011

What I did for mine (bottom of foot) was to get the acid pads and just leave them. I didn't clean up the skin until it was really coming off down there, then I immediately replaced the acid pad with a fresh one. I got some minor stinging for a few days, stopped replacing the acid pads, then was relieved when the cluster of ~10 warts just sort of died off (I think I had killed the cells, they were just still rooted in there for a bit).
posted by Slackermagee at 9:49 AM on November 16, 2011

FWIW, I've had a number of warts over the years, and I've generally found that the acid treatment produces results like you describe: it gradually gets uglier and sorer. By itself, this hasn't ever led to the wart going away for me, sad to say. I've also tried the freezing route without much success - the Doctor said to get it frozen every 2 weeks, but that resulted in constant pain and limping that I just couldn't put up with for the length of time it was going to take. The only thing that has worked consistently was a remedy suggested by the dermatologist I was referred to - soaking the affected area in a saturated solution of alum (hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate), combined with the acid treatment. The alum is apparently only mildly effective against warts, but at least for me, it was enough to turn the tide, more rapidly than I could've imagined after putting up with the warts for years.
posted by Cheese Monster at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all! So I'd already tried Compound W (=freezing the wart off) without success, and hadn't been sure whether going to a doctor would be worth it, but - MetaFilter has spoken! So I went along and had it frozen off today, hardcore, with dry ice. Now it hurts *like a motherfucker*, but hopefully will be gone soon. I'm going to try warm water soaks to soothe it, thanks theobserver!
posted by jlibera at 5:28 PM on November 16, 2011

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