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What are the treatment options for plantar warts?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

There are many treatment options available for plantar warts. Over-the-counter options include salicylic acid and cryotherapy (freezing) products. Some people have successfully treated warts using duct tape. For more persistent warts, your doctor can prescribe medication or do a procedure that may involve cutting, burning, or freezing the wart.

James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
Unless you have diabetes or some other underlying medical condition that makes you prone to infections or slow to heal, a treatment option for plantar warts is an over-the-counter preparation that includes 40% salicylic acid (Clear Away, Compound W, others). Follow the directions carefully. These products contain acids or chemicals that destroy skin, and you risk damaging healthy skin along with the wart. Using these products can be a long, laborious process. You may need to apply the medication every day for weeks or months, scraping off the dead skin the following day. Another option is to consult a foot care specialist, who may apply a stronger topical preparation.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are several ways to get rid of plantar warts. The most common is by freezing them (cryotherapy) with liquid nitrogen. Cryotherapy may require several visits to your primary care doctor or dermatologist. Other treatments include burning (electro surgery), often combined with curettage, a procedure in which the wart is scraped off with a sharp instrument. Another option is “painting” plantar warts with the compound cantharidin, which causes a blister to form under the wart; a week or so later, the dead wart can be removed. In some cases, your doctor may be able to cut the wart out, a process called excision. There are several other treatments as well. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment option for you.     
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
One favorite remedy for mild plantar warts involves duct tape. Cover the warts tightly with it for a week, then peel it off; the warts usually follow. There are also effective over-the-counter treatments, such as salicylic acid.

If your warts aren't mild; you need to see a dermatologist, who has several weapons of wart destruction:
  • applying cantharidin, which creates a blister under the wart, allowing it to be snipped away
  • freezing off the wart (cryotherapy)
  • burning it off (electrosurgery)
  • scraping it off with a tiny scalpel
  • zapping it with a laser
  • treating it with a drug that prods your immune system to attack the wart virus

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.