Several many years ago I was blessed with plantar warts on the heel and toe of my right foot. They were fairly large and uncomfortable (heel about the size of a pencil eraser, toe about half that). This was the B.C. (Before Crunchy) time in my life, so I scheduled a doctor's appointment to have them lasered out. GAH! Never again! The smell of charred flesh was foul, as was the crater in the bottom of my foot, but the worst part was that the darn things came right back! I ended up treating with over the counter wart removers, pecking and poking until the darn things finally disappeared.
I was not happy when I recently discovered a Mini Me version of the heel wart had returned. (This is fairly common, since the virus can hang around dormant in your system.) This time I caught the wart early, and am unleashing the full armada of home remedies for warts to knock it out. In this post will cover a bit of info on what causes warts and wart identification, before giving you a great list of home wart treatments to help you get rid of your warts.
Note: This post was originally written in 2014 and updated in 2017. I used apple cider vinegar and duct tape on my wart and it was gone before I had a chance to try anything else.
What Causes Warts?
Whether they are common warts (found on hands and other spots), plantar warts (on the soles of the feet), palmer warts (on the palm), flat warts (often found on back of hand, but also elsewhere, smaller and flatter than other warts) or genital/anal warts (found in genital area and nearby real estate), warts are all caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Skin damage, moisture, direct contact with warts or contact with surfaces touched by warty humans, and a stressed out immune system can all contribute to the appearance of warts.
What do Warts Look Like?
Warts have a wide range of appearances, including but not limited to:
- black dots on the bottom of your foot
- lone flat bumps on the back of your hands
- massive clusters of mangled lumpiness covering large areas of skin
Do an online image search for your wart of choice, and you'll come up with many photos – but be warned – some are pretty darn scary.
NOTE: Before considering self-treatment of warts, make sure to get a positive ID. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a 5 point checklist for identifying signs of skin cancer. Plantar warts are often sore to the touch – which is how I discovered my new wart. My heel hurt after a long day on my feet. Then I found the telltale dot.
Here's another photo from when my eldest found a couple of warts on his foot. (These photos were taken three years apart. Thankfully was are not overly wart prone, but they do show up from time to time.)
Will Warts Go Away on Their Own?
Yes, most warts will disappear on their own over time, but it may take a year or two. Meanwhile, they can be uncomfortable, painful or just embarrassing. Thus, a need for cheap and easy wart removers.
Remember, always consult a trained healthcare provider for serious disease or injury, excessive pain or bleeding. I read some nasty horror stories online while researching about folks who made some bad decisions while attempting home treatment of genital warts that led to secondary infections. Please be careful! This post is for general information only and is not meant to replace the care of a trained healthcare provider.
Wart Treatment #1 – Apple Cider Vinegar
As any good home remedy user will know, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is the Queen of Home Remedies. It's sort of like Windex in “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” – just use it for whatever's bothering you. Headaches, sunburn, acid reflux – ACV is a treatment option. It has over 112 positive recommendations as a wart treatment on EarthClinic.
To use vinegar as a wart treatment, simply soak a little cotton ball or some gauze with vinegar and apply to the wart area. Wrap it in place with a bandage or medical tape. I usually apply at bedtime and keep it on overnight, and then let it air out during the daytime. The wart (and some skin surrounding it) will discolor and die back. Gently abrade and remove the dead wart tissue. Repeat as needed until wart is gone. Take a break if needed if skin area around wart becomes uncomfortable.
Wart Treatment #2 – Pee On It
Urine therapy for warts is applied much the same as ACV. Dip your gauze or cotton ball in the urine and bandage it on the wart area overnight. Urine from the wart-ridden individual is best. A close family member will do in a pinch. Slough away dead wart material each day. My friend, Adrienne, noted that her son found urine therapy less irritating than apple cider vinegar as a wart treatment. They designated a specific cup for urine collection, and applied the pee most nights over the course of a few weeks until the warts disappeared.
Wart Treatment #3 – Duct Tape
I've been waiting to use duct tape for a home remedy, because it has a light side and a dark side and holds the universe together, like the force. 😉 The premise is simple – the irritation of the duct tape being stuck to your skin is supposed to get the attention of your immune system faster and send it to vanquish the dreaded wart invader. Just cut a patch to cover the wart area, stick on, and leave until it falls off. Let air out for a while, repeat. In between, abrade and clean wart area to remove dead tissue. Positive aspects of this method are that you can use a smaller patch of duct tape than a typical bandage, and it comes in fun colors.
Wart Treatment #4 – Banana Peels
Banana peels contain a proteolytic enzyme that softens and dissolves the wart. Eat your tasty banana, then scrape the whitish interior of the peel and apply in a manner similar to the ACV. This remedy is all over the internet, and is the second most popular recommendation on EarthClinic, so you know it works for many people. Given that what you're looking for here is the enzymes, I suspect fresh pulp from papaya, pineapple and figs (which are also high in enzymes), would also work well, if you don't happen to have bananas on hand.
Wart Treatment #5 – Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another “go to” staple in my kitchen and skin care regime. I use it daily for cleaning and moisturizing my skin, and as an ingredient in my hard lotion bars. Proponents claim that it is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, so it would make sense that it could help ditch warts. Just apply regularly, preferably coating the affected area and bandaging as with the methods above.
Wart Treatment #6 – Honey
Honey is another powerhouse of healing, as we discussed in the post “Honey as Medicine“. It contains enzymes, is naturally acidic, and draws excess moisture out of the tissues. Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand and Australia by bees feeding on manuka (tea tree) plants, which are well known for their medicinal properties. Since tea tree oil is another commonly recommended wart remedy, manuka honey is like getting a two in one punch. Whichever honey you choose, make sure it's real honey, not an adulterated product. I buy bulk local honey for general use, but I also keep a container of manuka honey on hand for just this sort of thing. Apply honey to the wart area and bandage, and use follow up treatment in a similar manner to other options listed above.
Wart Treatment #7 – Weed Sap
You know the white, sticky stuff that gets on your hands when you break open a dandelion or milkweed stem? That liquid latex can be used to banish warts for good. Some folks apply and bandage, others just apply on a regular basis without bandaging until the wart is gone.
Four weeds that I found referenced for treating warts are:
All of these have white, milky sap and are easy to identify. For more information and photos to help you identify these plants, you can visit their Weekly Weeder posts.
- Common Milkweed – Weekly Weeder #10
- Common Dandelion – Weekly Weeder #17
- Chicory – Weekly Weeder #5
- Prickly Wild Lettuce – Weekly Weeder #24
Wart Treatment #8 – Aloe Vera
Most people know aloe vera is great for burns and can be used as an herbal antibiotic, but some people also swear by it as a pain free way to remove warts. Erin gives a glowing recommendation at Earth Clinic:
Just wanted to let you know that I have tried everything to get rid of a painful plantar wart on the bottom of my foot. I tried duct tape, ate tons of bananas, tried every OTC thing possible, even Tagament. I could hardly walk because the foot would hurt so bad. It would be red and painful by the end of the day.
Finally tried aloe vera gel. I put it on one night and within two days, I noticed it did not hurt as bad. About a week later, I noticed I could walk without any pain and the wart had turned black. Almost two weeks later, the wart had dried up and I was able to take a pair of tweezers and pull it completely out. The wart is gone and my foot feels and looks normal except a little dry rough spot where the wart was, a small crater like hole where the wart was that is closing in. I am so happy and relieved as I had the wart for about four months.
Wart Treatment #9 – “Voodoo” Remedies
Bizarre but true – the third most popular “wart remedy” listed on Earth Clinic is a category lumped together as “voodoo remedies for warts”. From the lady who stopped hating her wart and started loving it – and watched it disappear, to the grandma who rubbed a raw potato on her grandson's warts and buried it in the backyard and saw the warts gone in under three weeks, it seems like there's a good chance that if you believe whatever you're doing to get rid of the wart will work – it does.
Possibly the coolest home remedy I've heard of for warts to date:
“When I was 5 years old, (nearly 60 years ago), I had warts on my hands. My Grandpa “bought” them from me for a penny. He gave me the penny, told me to go home and not talk for the rest of the day, (hmmmm…could have been a motive there). Within a couple of days they were gone ! Placebo effect maybe but true.”
When I mentioned these wart remedies to my son's piano teacher this week (Miss Betty of the No Canning Dill Pickles and Rye Bread), she said her grandmother told her that to get rid of warts, you needed to steal a dishcloth from your neighbor and bury it in your backyard. She wouldn't let me steal her dishcloth, so my wart's still here ( 😉 ), but I'm sure one of these remedies will make it just a memory very soon.
Home wart treatment options 10-15 come from the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page.
Wart Treatment #10 – Comfrey Leaf
Jennifer chimed in on Facebook:
“The best wart remedy is comfrey leaf! Put a couple leaves in boiling water and steep it. When it's cool enough, soak the area with the wart for 20 minutes or so. Do this a couple times a day until they're gone. How long is that? I'm sure it varies from person to person. I had plantar warts on the bottom of one heel when I was about 8 yrs old. When my grandmother saw me not walking on that heal she looked and discovered the plantar warts. She ran outside and grabbed comfrey leaves off her plant and soaked my heel twice a day. No more than one week later they were all gone and have never returned!”
Wart Treatment #11 – Turmeric
Karen shared her preferred wart treatment on Facebook, too.
The best paste or poultice to get rid of warts is Turmeric! It has antifungal properties and warts are fungus. Make a paste with it or a small slice of fresh apply and cover. Reapply for a week or more. It it dries the skin so be willing to every other night if needed and it stains but it works completely. Absorbed into the body and when I used it it also killed the ones I didn't put it on. Works every time.
Note: As mentioned earlier in the article, warts are caused by a virus, not a fungus, but curcumin (found in turmeric) is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.
Wart Treatment #12 – Garlic
Julie-Eliz recommends garlic to get rid of warts:
“I used garlic slices and Band-Aids. The warts blistered up and after the blisters healed and the dead skin came off the warts went with it. Didn't hurt and I didn't mind the garlic smell at all. Took about ten days all together.”
Wart Treatment #13 – Essential Oils
Carly chose essential oils for wart treatment:
“Thieves essential oil and Natures Aid skin gel (aloe with tea tree, witch hazel, rosemary and vitamin E). I put a few drops of Thieves oil on a cotton swab and wiped the wart and surrounding area with it then covered with a bandage that had Natures aid on it. Did this twice a day and the wart was gone in a week.”
Wart Treatment #14 – Aspirin
Another simple wart removal option is plain aspirin. Just dissolve the aspirin (non-coated) in enough water to make a paste, and apply it as a poultice.
Wart Treatment #15 – Home Freeze Kit
Sometimes when all else fails, it's time to bring out the big guns. Through the miracle of modern technology, you can purchase home freeze kits to get rid of warts. Tracy shares her experience:
“My aunt had really good luck with apple cider vinegar, but after home remedy after home remedy (apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, duct tape, acid etc) I bought a dimethyl ether product and froze my warts and they are finally going away.”
Other Wart Treatments?
Do you have a home remedy that's worked for you to get rid of warts? I'd love to hear about it.
Don't forget to check out our other Home Remedies posts, such as:
- 9 Home Remedies for Canker Sores and Tips to Avoid Cankers Sore Triggers
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease – Symptoms, Prevention and Home Treatment
- 10 Causes of Chapped Lips and What to Do About Them