Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health

Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health

School-age kids can come home with some pretty gross stuff like body odor and head lice, but in my book none of these make my stomach twist and turn as much as plantar warts. They are ugly, persistent and hurtful little buggers. If you haven’t dealt with them before then this article will attempt to arm you with what lies ahead from a parent’s perspective. After 2 of my 3 kids had them—one of them twice—we picked up some good tips for plantar wart home remedies and prevention.

What are Plantar Warts?

Children with plantar warts will tell you that every step feels like they are walking on a small stone. I feel bad remembering the first time my daughter developed one of these. I didn’t know about plantar warts at the time and assumed it was just like any other wart. I initially didn’t even worry too much when she complained—she has a very low pain tolerance and I assumed it was more of a nuisance than anything else. It wasn’t until the complaints persisted that I realized something else was going on and I began sleuthing. I quickly learned that plantar warts are MUCH more painful that regular warts.

Plantar warts are flat pea-sized warts that show up on the bottom of your kid’s feet. They have a surface appearance of cauliflower and can sprout black thread-like veins in the middle. To make things worse, they are both contagious and painful. Plantar warts are fairly common and affect 10-20% of school-age kids.


How Do You Get Plantar Warts?

Plantar Warts are caused by a virus that can be transferred by surface connection. The virus needs a way to get into the skin, which can be cuts, scrapes, dry cracks or skin that is wet and softened after a long swim or bath. Kids who spend a lot of time barefoot (which we encourage for healthy foot development) can contract them from playground surfaces that were used by other children carrying the virus on their feet. I believe my kids picked them up at the local pool swim deck or locker room since theirs both appeared a few weeks after swim lessons started. Adults can get them, too, although kids are more susceptible as they have less built-up immunities. Also, anyone with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.

 Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health

How Do You Get Rid of Plantar Warts?

According to medical experts, plantar warts can go away on their own after 1-2 years, but I have yet to meet a parent who made it that long without seeking a faster remedy. Fortunately, there are many plantar wart home remedies you can try. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor first to make sure it isn’t something other than a wart and to rule out other concerns about your child’s health that could be causing the growth.  Also, many of the following solutions should NOT be used by anyone with weakened immune systems, diabetes or other serious health conditions without seeking a doctors advice.

 1. Freeze it off (Cryotherapy)

This is the method my family found to be the best and most effective. While doctors may offer to do it professionally, you can also purchase over-the-counter products to do it yourself at home like we did. Check out Compound W Freeze Off or Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away, which come with topical applicators and simple instructions (we found it best to apply after a scrubbing bath, as described below). This freeze method will take anywhere from 1–5 applications over 1–2 weeks to completely kill the wart. This is a relatively fast process compared to other treatments, although your child may find the cold sensation to be a little painful.

2. Chemical Peel

Again, you can have this done by a doctor or you can do it at home with over-the-counter products like Compound W, which sells a variety of salicylic acid peeling products for treating the warts. This is almost the same as the freeze method above, but has the advantage of being less traumatizing to apply to your child’s foot since it is not cold. The downside is that it takes longer to fully remove the wart—between 3-6 weeks.

3. Other Chemical Cauterization

Other topical wart treatments include the use of zinc, silver nitrate or cantharidin (derived from Blister Beetles) applied as an ointment.  One suggested natural remedy uses a “smoke box” with smoke from burnt medicinal leaves like populus euphratica. These treatments are sometimes offered in your practitioner's office or can be done at home. They are generally acknowledged as being less successful as cryotherapy or salicylic acid, but may be considered a less invasive and more natural first approach to treatment.

4. Duct Tape

I felt I should include this home remedy for plantar warts since it is all over the internet and purportedly works for some, but it had zero, zilch, nada effect at our house despite valiant attempts by my 4th grader. Basically, you cover the wart with silver duct tape for 5-6 days, then do the soak/scrape method described below. Let the foot rest for 12 hours, reapply the duct tape and repeat the process. Personally, I don’t understand why creating a non-breathable, sweaty environment for the wart would work and it seemed more like wishing it to go away. Other people seem to think it works, though.

5. Surgical Procedures

More intense options include electrical cauterizing or laser treatment by a doctor. Your pediatrician may refer you to a podiatrist with better access to specialized equipment for the process. Local anesthesia is usually employed. For obvious reasons, this is usually considered a more extreme last resort.

 Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health

Except for surgical removal, most of the above approaches will require a little time and patience for the virus to die and for the skin to slough off. A few days after starting the treatment, I found giving my children long, hot baths would speed the removal process by softening the dying skin on the wart. While in the tub, gently rub the wart with a pumice stone or emery board, but be warned that this may be painful for the child. I found it better to let my kids scrub it themselves. I purchased a pack of small disposable pumice-like scrubbers and a box of disposable gloves to use when treating the wart so I would not spread the virus further. Kids will naturally start picking at the wart in the tub with their fingernails, but this is strongly discouraged as it may cause more contamination. Make sure they wash their hand and fingernails carefully if they touch it, or try to get them to wear sanitary gloves! Reapplication of the cyrotherapy or salicylic acid method is generally most effective on a completely dry foot after a bath/scrub session.


What a plantar wart looks like when it comes out:

After a few weeks of therapy, the wart will be dead - dry and calloused looking-  and the whole thing will come out in the bath with some gentle rubbing like a button. Be prepared: there will be a deep hole in the bottom of your child’s foot where the wart comes out and it looks really freaky! It might even make you gag (a lot). Stay calm, though, even though the hole looks painful, it usually is not as what you are seeing is clean, new skin that has grown around the dead virus.  Within a few days the foot should completely heal and the hole will have faded to a distant, unsettling memory.


How to Prevent Plantar Warts

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of plantar warts for your child:

  • Make sure your kids understand that touching the warts with their hands can spread them.
  • If they do touch a planter wart, immediately wash their hands carefully with soap and water.
  • Use disposable emery boards or other scrubbers when sloughing off the wart so you can throw it away when done and reduce the risk of further contamination.
  • Keep your kids' feet clean and dry with fresh socks and alternating pairs of shoes. Breathable shoes, which are always important for foot health and to reduce foot odor, are especially effective in this case.
  • Get your child shoes or sandals that can be worn in public showers or around swimming pools.
  • Beware of potentially infectious environments. In our case, I talked to the local pool director when I realized the plantar warts returned the next year at the same time swimming season started. It turned out my family wasn't the only one! Pool deck and locker room cleaning processes were improved at our pool and she recently informed me that reported incidences have evaporated.

Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health

With these easy precautions and a little luck, you may never encounter plantar warts in your family. If they do appear, however, then I hope these tips will save you a little time and detective work for finding a solution.

We hope your kids' feet stay happy all year long!


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  1. Ingy
    This has been by far the most helpful info I've come across even after seeing a GP
    My 6yr daughter has been struggling from a planter wart the size of Russia for over 6 months. It has even been named "Ivan the horrible".
    She's been in so much pain. We ended up using salicylic acid and the duct tape theory. This combo worked a treat after 3 weeks. Also thanks for the heads up on the hole. This had me worried at first.
    One thing that did surprise me from Ivan was it did ooze some pus when we ripped it off. Disgusting!!!!
    Thank you again!
  2. Ishaw
    Thank you for sharing. I had a plantar wart size of thumb. First the doctor electrocuted it but it came back. Then he told me to use Duofilm and it bleed after few days as I scrub too hard. Then I read about APple cider vinegar treatment. It hurt in start but it killed the wart and I followed it religiously. The pain was gone after second day and I can walk regularly. I also started taking homeo Pathic meds as to improve my immunity. The homeo dr told me to apply Thuja Q drops four times a day. At night I still apply ACV. To ensure that its all gone I ll do it for one more week. But I must say that naturopathy and homeopathy worked well for me.
  3. Gracy
    Great suggestions on preventing child's plantar warts. These diseases occur very fast and spread infection by touching on it. The ways to get rid of it and prevent it are given in your blog clearly which will be very helpful to people suffering from warts.
  4. PattyP
    A very important thing to remember - the shoe worn on the infected foot has the virus on it. You can get the warts again from wearing the same shoes you wore when you had the virus. I put a pair of fuzzy houseshoes in the wash, found them again a few weeks later and forgot they were infected. I got two warts in the same area where I'd had an earlier one. I'm going to soak in Apple cider vinegar, then wash. Even plastic sandals or flip flops are not immune.

    I have had great success with wart removal using duct tape. You must keep silver du t tape well stuck on the spot 24 hours per day for weeks. For some reason, you body will then reject the entire wart and it will suddenly pull off in the tape one day. The rest of your skin will be unaffected. Change the tape as needed or if bathing or swimming. Clean area well with alcohol and dry before each tape application to allow it to stick well.
    1. Elf Martin
      Thanks for the tip, Patty!
  5. Alexandra
    Patty, that is just not true. Warts need warm moist areas to live. They can spread from one area of your foot to another however which is likely what happened to you.
  6. Sarah
    The best way to get rid of a planter wart is apple cider vinegar. I had 2 really bad ones for several years and had gotten them removed several times but they always came back. You soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and tape it to your foot. You change it everyday. It will start to sting but after about a week or 2 you take it off. Mine healed and now it's been 4 years and haven't had any problems. It sounds weird but I promise you it works
  7. Tanya
    Our pediatrician told us the adhesive agent on the duct tape is what is harmful to the wart. My son has used it successfully.

    Also, Alexandra, Patty is correct, the virus that causes the wart, can be spread.
  8. Anissa
    I tried all sorts of over-the-counter treatments for 2 months with basically no results. I had read about tea tree oil as treatment, so I decided to give it a try. I applied a few drops to my wart, then applied a little to the bandage padding and affixed several bandages to my foot to keep it in place. I repeated for two days and there have been huge results. I now have no pain, no lump and just a few tiny black dots on my skin where the wart was. I plan on continuing my tea tree oil treatments till the wart is fully gone.
  9. Ash
    My ten yr old saw a podiatrist and he says the wart is a super wart and must be surgically removed in an OR with anesthesia. Has anyone heard of this extreme?
  10. Michelle
    Ash, I had a "super wart" that had to be surgically removed from my big toe. Have never had any problems since and it's been over 30 years.
  11. MB
    GREAT page. Thank you so much. This was such a clear and helpful resource regarding treatments and expectations in my moment of need.

    The humor was a total bonus!
  12. Amy
    I am currently using lemon iol and smashed aspirin wrapped in a bandaid on my planters watt 2x a day. My question is about the shoes... do I need to throw my shoes away or will Lysol spray work???
  13. Stephanie
    Try Epsom Salt soaks. I've never heard of that as a cure for warts, but it worked for me. I had a big plantar wart on the ball of my foot, enmeshed in callous, for about 7 1/2 years. I tried duct tape, apple cider vinegar, wart remover bandaids and patches, and freezing at home and by my doctor. Everything except the freezing worked ok and would reduce the buildup on the wart, but I never could keep up with treatment long enough to get rid of the wart, only to stop it from hurting when I walked. The wart finally went away after I soaked my foot in Epsom Salt 3 times a day for 3 or 4 days (to treat an infected toenail). It just sort of turned back into normal skin, nothing ever fell out as described in the article. It just healed.

    Since then I have treated a wart on my hand with just Apple Cider Vinegar. I dipped a cotton swab in ACV then taped it to the wart. After about 3 or 4 days the wart turned black and a week or two later, the black part came out and then it reverted to normal skin after it healed. I think its easier when you're not dealing with a bunch of callous along with a wart.
  14. Kerry
    Like Stephanie said, ACV really does work! It was one of the main ingredients in Verrucas Kryptonite, which uses ACV and a few other ingredients to get rid of your plantar wart quickly and permanently. The key is to apply treatment even after it is gone so you can prevent it from recurring. This is key! I remember I treated it and then stopped once it turned black and fell off. Low and behold it returned! Yikes. So I had to start the treatment over again and keep it up even after it was gone. There are certain preventative measures you must take to keep it from recurring. HPV is a tricky virus so make sure you always keep an eye on your feet and keep give your feet a good old fashioned cleaning every day. Have you every tried using crushed aspirin? Heard that works well too. Other than that keep your feet dry too.
  15. Barbie
    I found a surprising remedy that works in just three days. My ten year old daughter acquired these at the pool and all in total had over 20, most arranged as mosaic warts (grouped up plantars). I started by taking her to the doctor who confirmed they were plantar warts and said “It’s not worth me doing anything to them because they will go away on their own. If they’re bothering her, Go to the pharmacy and try some over the counter stuff.” We tried multiple over the counter remedies with no luck. Meanwhile she was in so much pain she was walking tip toe 100% of the time. Being desperate, I started asking every parent I knew if they had tips. A former ballet dancer Mom (who did this personally and she got them all the time) told me that she would cut a piece of banana skin to the size of the wart, place it flesh size down, and then cover tightly and completely with tape. She would then take it off three days later and the wart with pull away with the banana peel. I tried her instructions to the letter, and this morning (the third day) 80% of the warts came out with the peel, leaving loads of craters all over her feet. I was so amazed I took a bunch of photos for proof. I plan to do it again for the remaining few. It sounds dumb, but banana peels and airtight wrapping are the easiest way to go.
    1. Elf Martin
      Thanks for the tip, Barbie!
  16. Dorothy
    This works and doesn’t hurt buy a aloe plant cut off a piece then every time you think about it squeeze the juice from inside on the area store it in fridge . Repeat this till wart is gone . I had treatments and they hurt this doesn’t . Had this done when I was 8 and am now 53 they’ve never came back
  17. Chris
    My son just started the freezing method but we dont know if it needs to be bandaged between treatments.
  18. Tyler Johnson
    That's good to know that removing a wart can lead to a hole int he foot. I feel like that could get infected if you don't take good care of it. I'll make sure to take my kid to a foot doctor if that ever happens to him.
  19. Bob
    I love your tip about washing toenails properly. That could probably prevent infection. I'll have to make sure that my kids' feet are clean.
  20. Henry Killingsworth
    Henry Killingsworth
    I'm glad you mentioned that freezing a wart is the most effective and quick way to remove it. My wife has had a lump on her feet for the past couple of weeks, and we are worried that it is a wart. I think it would probably be a good idea for her to find a foot doctor to visit so that we can get it properly removed.
  21. dermatologist wart removal
    dermatologist wart removal
    Great Tips! Thanks for sharing.
  22. Julian
    I had a stubborn plantar wart that would not go away. I tried the Dr. Scholl's freeze away a few times and salicylic acid Band-Aids without success. I was able to finally get rid of it with 100% trichloroacetic acid which I applied with a q-tip. It was a little bit painful but I was glad to get rid of it.
  23. Susan Hillsgrove
    Susan Hillsgrove
    The banana peel treatment is 100% amazing! After over two years dealing with a planters wart and another newer one starting on the side , I finally gave in and tried what sounded absolutely crazy! A piece of banana peel face down on wart covered up by tape (I used duct as I had some) put it on at bedtime, take it off in the morning. I’m on my 4th night and I’d swear they are both gone!! I’m going to keep doing it until I’m positive! I’ve tried podiatrist, every home remedy the drug store and health store sell! I’ve spent so much money and time I was tired of thinking about this painful little wart! I can’t say enough about this practically free and completely pain free home remedy!! Try it first! Don’t waste time and money like I did!!
  24. Patti
    I’ve had my planter wart on the ball of my big toe for over six years. I got it from swimming.
    I sand it down all around with an automatic foot buffer tool. Then I add compound W and a bandaid after a good 5 minute soak.
    I’ve seen the gross hole many times. Then I put into the hole more acid with a bandaid. It always comes back anyway.
    I’ve sanded the hole area down sometimes until it’s all level. At times the former wart hole area starts to bleed. But then it’s level and smooth again. But it always comes back. They are the worst.

    Had warts my whole life. Fingers and toes. On and off. Gone for a decade once!
    Now my kids have them. They do eventually just go away. It’s true! But my pesky one right now just doesn’t want to leave!
    I will try the ACV and the Epson salts. Thanks!
    The handheld foot buffer machine helps with the dead skin.
    That’s my only real suggestion.
  25. Lila
    I used to have one on the ball of my foot, but while I was doing treatment for it got two more right by my big toe. The one on the ball of my foot is gone( freeze-dry treatment), but now I have three more mosaic warts on my big toe by my nail, and the freeze-dry treatment just isn't working for them. Does anyone have any tips?
  26. Sasha
    Hi. My 1 year old has a wort under her foot.
    Any home remedies to remove it please
  27. woof my foot is in agony
    woof my foot is in agony
    It.hurt’s a lot
  28. HPie
    My son has plantar wart(s). I can't get an appointment to be seen for months due to covid. Its now protruding and we've used salicylic acid for 2 to 3 weeks. Since then its sprouting white shoots. Also smaller dark red/brown shoots. Its turned dark brown/red over the last 2 days. What does this mean please? Is it getting worse or better? Any advise would be really appreciated, thanks
    1. C.Elf.O Tricia
      C.Elf.O Tricia
      Hello HPie- Hopefully they are not too painful for your sone. What you are describing sounds like natural progression, but it would be good to get a professional opinion. Has your son tried a long, hot soaking bath?
  29. Judy
    Apple cider vinegar and duct tape. It works. Clean and then swab area with the ACV. Pat dry and adhere the duct tape. Repeat every other day until it comes off. Takes 1-2 weeks.

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