It’s entirely possible for warts to clear up on their own, although this may not happen very rapidly (or at all, in some cases). So, you may opt to have your wart removed rather than wait it out. Over-the-counter options are available, although they are often not as effective as treatment by a podiatrist. It can be difficult for these treatments to penetrate the thick skin on the plantar surface of the foot, and it’s kind of hard to avoid destroying healthy tissue along with the wart. If you have diabetes or other problems with your circulation, nerves or immune system, you should not try to treat warts yourself.
Some over-the-counter or other in-home treatment options include:
- Duct tape – Yes, you may be able to use this ever-useful tool to create fashion accessories, patch things up around the house, and get rid of your warts. Users of this method typically cover their warts in duct tape for six days, then soak the warts in water to soften the skin. After that, they gently rub at the warts with a pumice stone or emery board to remove, or at least reduce the size of the wart. A single treatment probably won’t get rid of your wart, but repeating this process over a couple of months may produce results. It’s a pretty painless option, and given the printed duct tape designs that are now available, this may be the most fashionable method.
- Salicyclic acid – This method peels off layers of the wart a little bit at a time. You usually apply it twice a day, usually for several weeks, and rub away the wart in between treatments using an emery board or pumice stone. When using this method it’s important that you apply the acid only to the wart, and not to the healthy tissue near the wart.
If these over-the-counter treatments don’t adequately reduce your wart problem, or if you have diabetes or other issues, your podiatrist can offer further treatments. Unfortunately, many of these methods can be painful, so be sure to discuss all your options with your doctor before deciding on a treatment, particularly for children. Treatments from your podiatrist may include:
- Freezing – While you can get over-the-counter cryotherapy treatments, your podiatrist has access to liquid nitrogen, that ultra-cold stuff that can freeze a flower so fast that it shatters if you tap it. But don’t worry—your foot doctor won’t shatter your foot or even your wart. Basically, it just kills the tissue in and around the wart. A blister forms and eventually sloughs off, taking the wart with it. The liquid nitrogen freeze is more likely to be effective than over-the-counter freezing options, simply because it’s so darn cold. This method can be painful, so take care before treating children with cryotherapy.
- Cantharidin – Another way to kill the tissue in the wart is by applying a substance produced by the blister beetle. You may get an uncomfortable blister from this method, but the application of cantharidin itself isn’t likely to be painful.
- Surgery – Your wart can be excised using sharp instruments or lasers, although this method could result in scarring, is likely to be painful, and may involve a long recovery.
- Immune system boosts – Your body loves to destroy malevolent viruses, although sometimes it needs a little extra help. There are injections and topical creams available that can stimulate your immune system and help it fight off the virus causing your warts.
- Anti-viral injections – While antibiotics are not good for warts (since warts are caused by a virus and not by bacteria), your doctor may suggest an anti-viral medication called bleomycin to kill your HPV infection. However, these injections can be quite painful and are not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Warts do tend to come back rather frequently, so you may find yourself starting your treatment all over again, or trying different treatments over time. Becasue of warts’ persistance many home remedies have also been thought of over centuries and eons. Although these have not been proven scientifically, a home remedy may also help you. In this case I recommend discussing which these remedies with your grandmother. Warts are frustrating little viruses so you should consider all options.