How do you get rid of extremely stubborn plantar warts?
June 24, 2008 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Advice for treating some ridiculously persistent plantar warts? What remedies do you know that have been successful after all others have failed? Is there anyone who specializes in treating plantar warts? (In the Boston area.)

The details, as briefly as possible.

- Have had a wart on the bottom of my foot for almost 8 years, right where I put my weight. Got it treated within months of noticing it, but it didn't respond to freezing or salicylic acid so I home-treated by cutting it down with nail clippers whenever it got too big and painful to walk on. (I picked at it enough to create a little crater, usually.) Thought it would go away on its own in time.

- Fast forward to two years ago. Wart still going strong as ever and has grown into a mosaic wart. (lots of little warts together.) I get serious about treatment and try freezing, Compound W equivalent, duct tape, topical steroid, candida antigen, led meditation (aka hypnosis), and most recently, Heal Warts. (Has anyone actually had success with Heal Warts? I thought I saw a reduction in the number of blood vessels after I'd used it for awhile, but I'm skeptical that they were related, and the wart is still as big and painful as ever.)

- Now, the wart is still alive and going strong. In fact, within the past few months while I've been using Heal Warts, I've developed warts on the top of my big toe by the nail, on the knuckle of the toe next to it, and on one of my fingers. (Before this, it had been at least 6-7 years since I'd developed new warts.)

- I have read a lot online and on Ask MeFi. I know that it is caused by a strain of HPV. I have heard of people whose warts were cured with Gardasil (HPV vaccine) and I am about to start the 3-shot series, but I don't know if I can really rely on that since the HPV strain that causes warts is not included in the vaccine.

- I have seen the articles online that debunk the idea that duct tape, banana peel, etc. are better than placebo.

- At the top of the leg with the warty foot (the same side as the warty finger), I have a swollen lymph gland. I don't have this on the other side (which has no warts) so I wonder if this is somehow related to my body trying to fight this virus. I noticed it a few weeks ago and it may have been enlarged for who knows how long before that; I've not seen an improvement in my warts since noticing it, though.

- I am not interested in surgical removal (cutting it out) or laser treatment. The wart is huge and I am afraid of scarring which could leave me with just as much discomfort. (except then, it would be permanent.) Also, since it's caused by a virus, the warts could just come back. (though at this point I'll admit I'm becoming increasingly focused on getting rid of this one rather than eradicating warts forever.)

::phew:: I'm sorry that was not very short. I would be extremely grateful for any advice you can give me, especially coming from situations similar to mine, where the warts are mosaic and have been extremely hard to treat. If you have personal experiences with treatments (successful or not) I'd love to hear them, as well as any specialists or websites or medical papers you can point me to.

Thank you!!
posted by inatizzy to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was once like you! I had mosaic warts that went up between the toes and all over the bottom of my forefoot, especially the padding under the big toe. Various at-home and at-doctor freezing and salicyclic acid treatments only made them seem to get worse. And worse. It was a pretty fucking huge area of big warts and lots of tiny little warts.

I went to a dermatologist, and they suggested the laser. I figured, what the hell. It's the bottom of my foot and I doubt the scarring will be that bad (I admittedly did not do a whole lot of research on possible side-effects). Well, that shit hurt, especially the Novacaine shots to the bottom of my foot. My skin was all black and charred for a week. Some of the warts were gone once everything had healed, but not all. And then, a couple of months later, I was clear. Like the dermatologist predicted, the laser provided enough of a shock that it killed the virus and cleared the area, though it was a gradual process.

I have no scars. I have had no complications, and no further warts. If I were you, I would seriously reconsider the laser.
posted by schroedinger at 12:02 PM on June 24, 2008

Try the banana peel method! My son had a mosaic plantar on his big toe. Overall it was probably about the size of a grape, or larger. He was getting to the point where he could barely wear shoes anymore. I took him to a podiatrist, who couldn't get rid of it. We tried compound-w and duct tape and...everything. Last month I said, "There has to be a natural way to get rid of that sucker", as everyone in my family laughed at me. So I googled and found the banana peel cure page. In past AskMe plantar wart threads the banana peel cure has been mentioned, but it never really registered.

So I explained to my son (18) how to do it. Keep in mind that he had the wart for about 2 years, it was growing larger all the time, and he had taken to cutting it every night until he bled. He put a piece of banana peel on it, and covered it with duct tape. He didn't understand the part about changing it every day, so left the same banana peel on the wart for four days. When he took the peel off, the wart was totally dead. Supposedly the potassium in the peel goes all the way to the roots. When we put the peel on, the wart was white and segmented and clustered. When he took it off four days later, the whole wart was black. It was obvious it was dead. I was actually speechless when I saw what had happened in only 4 days. That was last month. Every day the area healed a little more, and now, today, there is just a slight bit of peely skin left, like you would see if you peeled a bit after a sunburn. The toe is perfectly smooth, and totally healed, and a normal shape.

My son also had a smaller wart on the sole of his foot, and one on a finger. When he saw what the peel had done, he applied peels to those as well. Both are gone.
posted by iconomy at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

kinda related: i had a bad case of flatwarts on my hand--several large ones and lots of small ones. i successfully used embalming fluid (the doctor talked about 'pickling' the warts). what really made it work is that after applying the goop on the warts, I sealed my hand inside a plastic glove. it made the treatment much more intense.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2008

A roommate used fresh crushed garlic on plantar warts successfully. Took several weeks of 2x daily application of crushed garlic and a bandaid.
posted by theora55 at 1:07 PM on June 24, 2008

I had really bad plantar warts and ended up doing multiple freezing treatments over a year to knocck them down.

I also had my wife curse them. I think the freezing worked best, but the cursing was always entertaining.

"you suck wart, we want you gone!"
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:18 PM on June 24, 2008

I've had freezing, and that's worked okay, but wasn't permanent. Eventually I got to the point where a cautery wand was used. It hurt, but it got the job done.
posted by canine epigram at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2008

I had a persistent plantar wart. I tried duct tape, and then my dermo did several rounds of freezing, then a couple rounds of bleomycin. Finally ended up getting it excised. The small scar that remains does not bother me in the least (whereas the wart was fairly painful to walk on). Unless you have problems with keloids or some other hyper-scarring, I wouldn't rule out surgery.
posted by oats at 2:16 PM on June 24, 2008

I had the same thing!!!!!!
I had the doctor freeze it, which basically was INCREDIBLY painful (I was on crutches for a few days b/c my foot was so swollen I couldn't even wear shoes), and it made it worse.
Then I saw a dermatologist, who first gave me concentrated formaldehyde- which didn't work either.
Finally he prescribed me Aldara, which is a genital wart cream???
It completely destroyed this giant wart I had had for years- in two weeks.
What was funny was when I was at the pharmacy, and the pharmacist said "well, the doctor's note says to apply the cream and then cover the area with a band-aid... that's usually not what we recommend." I said "Oh, its actually for a wart on my foot", and he said,
"Yeah. Right."
posted by nataliedanger at 3:21 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

thanks for the tips everyone! if you have any advice for seeking out a specialist I'd really appreciate that, too. I've had no luck finding a resource to find one. (I'd be looking for someone with a lot of experience with treating this, or someone who I could go to for laser or surgery who'd give me the lowest chance of side effects.)

nataliedanger - Aldara is the name of topical steroid I mentioned above, but I had forgotten the name. (thanks!) I never did cover the area with a band-aid, I wonder if that might have helped things. (I was trying to use it and duct tape, but the tape never stuck b/c the cream was so greasy. so then the dermatologist told me to not worry about the tape, but the cream never seemed to have an effect, sadly.)

oats and schroedinger - thanks for the insight on the surgery and laser. I'm still hesitant (especially since the laser sounds so painful!) but I will give them more consideration.

iconomy - I have heard about the banana peel method before, but I do wonder whether it is just a placebo effect... but I think I will make this my next attempt. it is cheap and painless, if a little messy and complicated to work into my daily life. (do you keep it on all day?)
posted by inatizzy at 8:54 PM on June 24, 2008

A wart is an opportunistic viral infection. It starts when a virus gets into a little cut or weak spot in your skin. It sticks around when it has established a blood supply. Cutting a wart does not work! You're just making more places for the viruses to embed themselves. That's why freezing, burning, and acid are the preferred treatments.

I had a wart for years. Compound-W did squat for me. I used Duoplant twice a day for several months and that did the trick for me.

The banana peel method sounds like a joke (What kind of shoes do you make with banana peels? Slippers!), but I might try it the next time I have a problematic wart.
posted by mausburger at 12:06 AM on June 25, 2008

Podiatrists are good with warts.
posted by happyturtle at 3:37 AM on June 25, 2008

I had one of these which wouldn't go away for a couple of years, even with various lotions and potions, and was getting slowly larger. What fixed it for me in about a week was actually just using a pumice stone to gently 'sand' the area down every day, along with keeping my feet up as much of possible.
posted by Drexen at 3:51 AM on June 25, 2008

20+ years ago, I got one little wart on the right sole. Five years later, I had 50-70 warts on the bottoms of each foot. I tried several OTCs but nothing helped until I finally got insurance.

I went to a podiatrist and got super concentrated hydrochloric acid + the formaldehyde to use in combination. Acid applied in the morning, covered with a nylon sock then a cotton sock. As soon as I got home at night, I rinsed off my feet then soaked them in formaldehyde for 20 minutes, followed by a brisk (but not too brisk) scrubbing.

My left foot was totally cleared up but I wasn't as vigilant on the right and had a 2 warts left when I ended treatment about 4 months later. (I should've stuck with it but life blah blah happened)

Those 2 warts started reproducing and suddenly I had 5. Then 8. So I got some Compound W. Between using it & really digging into each wart (with tweezers and then a Swiss Army knife) to get that little black seed out, I was wart free. It took 2 or 3 months and ruined a pair of shoes, lots of socks, the Swiss Army knife and a rug (self surgery can be so darn messy).

So please, go see a podiatrist. Most of them treat plantar warts and just tell him/her right from the start that you want to avoid surgery if at all possible.
posted by jaimystery at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2008

iconomy - I have heard about the banana peel method before, but I do wonder whether it is just a placebo effect... but I think I will make this my next attempt. it is cheap and painless, if a little messy and complicated to work into my daily life. (do you keep it on all day?)

I don't see how it could be a placebo effect when my son went into it with the understanding that it was ridiculous, if you know what I mean. Several trips to the podiatrist did nothing, and during the last visit she said she would like to try removing it surgically, but that it was so deep that she would probably need to take off a hefty portion of the side of his toe. thank you! She also recommended some kind of acid that she said in advance was pretty painful. thank you again!

Yes, do keep it on all day, and all night. Just slice a piece of banana off and take the peel and cover the wart with it, and totally secure and cover it with duct tape. Leave it on through showers if you can - if not, just pat the wart dry after your shower and put a peel back one right away. Please mefimail me and let me know how this works or doesn't work for you. Good luck! Oh and eat the bananas....the potassium works from the inside too, supposedly.
posted by iconomy at 1:26 PM on June 25, 2008

My wife has had good success with fresh basil taped to the wart continuously for as long as it takes. Thuja oil worked ok with frequent applications.
posted by pointilist at 10:55 PM on June 25, 2008

Just thought I would post a quick update here! I used the banana peels for awhile, with a little success - in just one day it turned part of the wart on my toe black, and eventually it fell out. The rest of it, and the ones on the bottom of my foot, didn't budge, though.

So a coworker said he'd done salicylic acid successfully in the past on stubborn ones, and I decided to give it a go again since it'd been a long time since I had tried it. It's been a few months of putting it on a couple times/day (some weeks I am more consistent than others), but it is working! I've gone through a lot of peeling layers, and it has made it feel even more like a big rock on the bottom of my foot, but after a couple months I stopped for a week or two, and noticed that after those layers fell away, there was real skin underneath with 'fingerprints' and everything, instead of the wart. I still have a few there that I'm working on, but the area is MUCH smaller than it used to be! I hope this treatment will help me finish them off soon.
posted by inatizzy at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2008

« Older Where can we find an hibachi?   |   HIPAA Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.