Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Since warts generally go away on their own within months or years leaving no scar, treatment ought to be conservative, with destructive approaches being reserved after all else fails.
For temporary relief of pain, place a doughnut-shaped piece of moleskin around the wart. This can be purchased at a drugstore.
Since the source of discomfort in most symptomatic plantar warts is the thickened layer of horny skin between the nerve-bearing tissues and the ground, simple nontraumatic removal of this material is a good alternative. This can be accomplished with a pumice stone or some other type of abrasive material after the sole of the foot has been soaked in water for 20 minutes to soften the wart. Since the thickened keratin is identical to the keratin found in any callus, its painless, bloodless removal by carefully paring with
a corn or callus trimmer is a reasonable alternative. People with diabetes or peripheral artery disease or individuals who have numbness due to peripheral neuropathy should avoid paring.
Another technique to remove the excess keratin is an over-the-counter salicylic acid preparation, available at the pharmacy in liquid, gel, pad, or ointment form. Some familiar brand names are Dr. Scholl's Wart Remover, Compound W, Freezone, and Wart-Off. Be sure to follow package directions because over-application of these products can burn the skin. Periodically sand and retreat the wart. It can take several months to get rid of a large one using these treatments. Warts can spread, so monitor your feet closely and treat warts when they are small.
Soak the affected area in warm water for five minutes before applying the salicylic acid. This will enhance the effects of the medication.
Remove any loose tissue with a brush, washcloth, or emery board and dry thoroughly. It is also important to file away as much of the overlying callus tissue as possible so that the medication can penetrate the wart properly.
In general, you should see improvement in one to two weeks. If such treatment does not yield results after several weeks, you should see your doctor for more aggressive methods of wart removal.
The prolonged use of this medication is not recommended, especially in infants, people with diabetes, and
others with impaired circulation.
Salicylic acid should only be used on warts or calluses and not on other types of skin conditions or lesions.
A commercial preparation containing about 17% salicylic acid and 17% lactic acid in a fast-drying solution (for example, Duofilm or DermaTech Wart Treatment)
can be applied daily after showering. The preparation is allowed to dry and the wart covered with waterproof tape, which is removed after the next shower or bath. You can pare the wart once a week with a sharp blade (or a family member can do it for you). It may take many months to clear the wart with this method.
The application of "duct tape" is a safe and apparently effective treatment approach worth trying. Any color duct tape is applied to the wart, which is kept covered 24 hours a day,
six out of seven days a week, for six weeks.