Montana Public Radio

How To Get Rid Of Plantar Warts: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Jan 20, 2017

Hi!  I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician.  I’m here today to give you health tips on what might seem like a creepy topic:  warts.

But not just any warts. I’m talking about plantar warts. Do you know where plantar warts grow?

On your feet!

The word “plantar”, spelled p-l-a-n-t-a-r, is an adjective describing things related to the sole of your foot.

The sole of your foot is like the sole of your shoe. It’s the bottom. And that’s where a plantar wart grows.

Plantar warts look like a miniature cauliflower — a small yellow circle, with a grainy lump in the middle. Sometimes only one plantar wart grows on only one foot. Sometimes several warts grow on one foot, or you might find warts on both feet.

Plantar warts are caused by a virus. They are not painful, and they don’t itch or burn. But if they are big, walking on them might make your foot hurt.

The virus that causes plantar warts lives in moist, warm environments, like locker rooms, gym showers, and the concrete around indoor pools. When you walk barefoot in those places the virus can get into your feet. Not everyone gets plantar warts from walking around barefoot. But you can protect your feet by wearing shoes or flip flops at the pool or in gym showers. It’s also a good idea to wear clean, dry socks every day, and not to share your shoes or socks with your friends or siblings.

If you do notice a plantar wart on your foot, tell your parents! They can help you decide what to do. If you just do nothing, the wart will eventually go away, but it might take a year or two. If you don’t want to wait that long, here are some things to do to try to get rid of the wart.

Your parents can buy a liquid wart medicine, an acid to brush onto the wart every day. And then slowly, over weeks and weeks, the wart will shrink.

Another thing you might try is duct tape. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes duct tape will get rid of plantar warts. Cut a piece twice the size of the wart, and stick it onto the wart. Keep the wart covered with duct tape for 6 days. After you remove the tape, wait one day and then use a nail file to gently scrape off the dead skin. Then, put a new piece of duct tape on and repeat the process until the wart is gone.

You can also try a banana peel. That’s right, a banana peel. Cut a piece of unripe, green peel that is twice as big as the wart, and tape it to your foot with the inside part of the peel over the wart. You will have to put a new piece of banana peel on every day. That’s a lot of bananas! Keep applying banana peels and filing off the dead skin until the wart is gone.

Another treatment is to put cedar oil on a plantar wart every night. Cedar oil is made from a red cedar tree, and it smells nice. Over time, cedar oil can kill the wart virus.

If these treatments don’t work, or your foot hurts when you walk on the wart, your parents can take you to a doctor. Doctors can freeze the wart off. You might have to see the doctor several times because freezing — just like duct tape, banana peels, and cedar oil — won’t kill the wart with only one treatment.

Don’t be afraid of warts. You can prevent them by wearing shoes or flip flops at the pool and in gym showers; by wearing your own clean, dry socks every day, and by not sharing shoes or socks with other people. But if you find a plantar wart on your foot, don’t freak out. They aren’t dangerous, but they are annoying.

Remember kids, if you have anything new or different on your body, tell your parents. Don’t try any medicine or treatment without their permission.

I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, and I’m wishing you well.

Dr. Starbuck and Bunny
Credit Laurie Childs

Jamison Starbuck, JD, ND, is a naturopathic family physician and the owner of One Doc Naturopathic Medicine, a family medicine clinic in Missoula, Montana.  Dr. Starbuck has been in private, primary care practice for over twenty-seven years.  She is a past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Dr. Starbuck did her undergraduate work at Middlebury College, in Middlebury, Vermont, majoring in history and art history.  She graduated from Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon and from National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.  Dr. Starbuck is a licensed naturopathic family physician and a licensed attorney member of the Montana State Bar.

Since 1995, Dr. Starbuck has written a monthly column for Bottom Line Health, a national newsletter/magazine. She is dedicated to the concept of physician as teacher and frequently offers public lectures and classes. Dr. Starbuck is a member of Missoula Kiwanis and serves on their Board as Treasurer.

In her spare time, Dr. Starbuck tends to her animals – a horse, dogs, chickens and a cat, her gardens and spends lots of time outdoors, celebrating life with nature in beautiful Montana.