How Plantar Warts Are Treated

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

While some plantar warts go away on their own, others may require treatment. Dermatologists (doctors specializing in treating skin conditions) can freeze, burn, or surgically remove warts in their office.

Laser treatment, injections, and chemicals may be necessary for stubborn warts. However, some people find that over-the-counter (OTC) treatments and home remedies work well for smaller warts.

This article explains plantar wart home remedies, OTC treatments, prescriptions, and procedures.

Close up photo of plantar war on man's foot

Konstantin Aksenov / Getty Images

Home Remedies

Warts have no overnight cure; treatment usually takes weeks, not hours. Common at-home treatments for plantar warts include covering the wart with duct tape and strategies to prevent further occurrences on yourself and others.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is sometimes used to cover a wart and peel away the wart's layers over time. However, there is little evidence to support this remedy. Research comparing topical preparations, duct tape, and placebo (a purposely inactive treatment) in children found that duct tape did not perform better than the placebo.

Duct tape side effects may occur in some people, which include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Eczema
  • Bleeding


Since warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), they can spread to other parts of your body or to others. So, whether you treat a wart at home (or at all), prevention strategies can help keep the wart from spreading.

Dermatologists recommend:

  • Avoiding picking or scratching warts
  • Wearing flip-flops in public locker rooms and pool areas
  • Not touching other people's warts or letting them feel yours
  • Keeping the wart and the area around it dry

Covering warts with a bandage is a good way to avoid accidentally scratching or exposing them to others. Preventing warts from spreading is often the only treatment many require. Generally, untreated warts won't hurt you. However, if your wart causes discomfort or you have many of them, you should see a healthcare provider for an evaluation and treatment.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

There are many OTC products for treating plantar warts, with most containing salicylic acid. A healthcare provider can also prescribe salicylic acid in a stronger form.

Salicylic acid is in a class of medications called keratolytic agents. It is one of the primary plantar wart treatments. It works by softening and loosening dry skin so it can come off more easily. Salicylic acid is available OTC and is applied topically.

In one study, researchers noted that salicylic acid cleared warts about 50% of the time. The treatment duration varied from six to 17 weeks.

Experts recommend using 17% salicylic acid. Before applying, bathe the skin for five minutes to soften it. Next, apply the topical salicylic acid daily for 12 weeks. Avoid use on the face.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

If you don't successfully get rid of warts on your own at home or with OTC treatments, you should see a healthcare provider. They have many methods of treating warts in their office.


Cantharidin is a topical application applied by a healthcare provider. It works by causing a blister to form under the wart. About a week after the application, you return to the office, where the wart will be clipped off.


Cryosurgery (cryotherapy) involves spraying liquid nitrogen onto the area to freeze it. It is one of the first-line treatments for warts. It may be preferred because it is quick, easy, and inexpensive. However, side effects include pain, discoloration, scars, and relapses. Cryotherapy has a cure rate of between 39% and 92%.


Electrosurgery is a therapy in which a healthcare provider uses an electric current to burn off a wart. In one study comparing cryotherapy and electrosurgery, researchers found the treatments were similarly effective. Electrosurgery had a 75% clearance rate, while cryotherapy was 73%. However, wart recurrence at 24 weeks recurred slightly more often in the electrosurgery group.


Curettage is often used with other treatment methods, like freezing or burning. During this procedure, a healthcare provider will use a knife or spoonlike tool to scrape off the wart gently.


If a healthcare provider wants to biopsy your wart, they will likely do an excision (surgical removal). This allows them to get the borders and enough material for lab analysis.

Laser Treatment

Laser therapy may be an option when warts don't respond to other treatments. A study found that laser therapy had a cure rate of 85%. However, the effects varied depending on the location of the wart. For example, on the heel, the rate was 100%, but on the front part of the foot, it was 69%.

Chemical Peels

Peeling medicines can be applied in the office or prescribed to use at home. These peeling agents may include TCA and salicylic acid.

Anticancer Agents

While warts aren't usually cancerous, they still respond to some anticancer medicines, including bleomycin and interferon. These are both injectable medicines that can be painful.


Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight the wart. One medication in this category is diphencyprone (DCP), which causes a mild allergic reaction around the wart, causing it to go away. Another option is candida antigen injections.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Complementary and alternative treatments for warts generally have limited evidence supporting their effectiveness.

Some natural remedies people use for warts include:

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) applied topically: No direct evidence supports ACV for warts. However, ACV does have antimicrobial properties at a total concentration.
  • Garlic applied topically: In a randomized controlled trial, researchers found that those who used lipid garlic extract on their warts achieved a 96% response rate.
  • Bee propolis applied topically: Research found that propolis cured plantar warts at a rate of 75% and common warts at a rate of 73%.
  • Tea tree oil applied topically: A study evaluated its effectiveness in treating HPV (which causes warts) and found a strong antioxidant effect.

While the evidence is limited for CAM, some people like to try them before using more invasive approaches.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Warts: Diagnosis and treatment.

  2. Craw L, Wingert A, Lara-Corrales I. Are salicylic formulations, liquid nitrogen or duct tape more effective than placebo for the treatment of warts in paediatric patients who present to ambulatory clinics?Paediatr Child Health. 2014;19(3):126-127. doi:10.1093/pch/19.3.126

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Warts: Tips for managing.

  4. MedlinePlus. Salicylic acid topical.

  5. Ockenfels HM. Therapeutic management of cutaneous and genital wartsJ Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2016;14(9):892-899. doi:10.1111/ddg.12838

  6. DermNet. Cantharidin.

  7. García-Oreja S, Álvaro-Afonso FJ, Tardáguila-García A, et al. Efficacy of cryotherapy for plantar warts: A systematic review and meta-analysisDermatol Ther. 2022;35(6):e15480. doi:10.1111/dth.15480

  8. Singh S, Neema S. Comparison of electrosurgery by electrodessication versus cryotherapy by liquid nitrogen spray technique in the treatment of plantar wartsMed J Armed Forces India. 2020;76(2):156-160. doi:10.1016/j.mjafi.2018.11.005

  9. de Planell-Mas E, Martínez-Garriga B, Viñas M, Zalacain-Vicuña AJ. Efficacy of the treatment of plantar warts using 1064 nm laser and coolingInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(2):801. doi:10.3390/ijerph19020801

  10. Gopal J, Anthonydhason V, Muthu M, et al. Authenticating apple cider vinegar's home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspectNat Prod Res. 2019;33(6):906-910. doi:10.1080/14786419.2017.1413567

  11. Kenawy S, Mohammed GF, Younes S, Elakhras AI. Evaluation of TNF-α serum level in patients with recalcitrant multiple common warts, treated by lipid garlic extractDermatol Ther. 2014;27(5):272-277. doi:10.1111/dth.12136

  12. Zedan H, Hofny ER, Ismail SA. Propolis as an alternative treatment for cutaneous wartsInt J Dermatol. 2009;48(11):1246-1249. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04184.x

  13. Ferreira, I.J., de Menezes, L.R. & Tavares, M.I.B. Morphological and structural evaluation of nanoparticles loaded with tea tree oil for the therapeutic treatment of HPVPolym. Bull. 2022; 79, 5457–5479. doi:10.1007/s00289-021-03780-0

By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.