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Can Over-the-Counter Treatments Take Care of My Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts

Plantar warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by a virus. When they form on the bottom of your foot, it can make walking uncomfortable, much like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Warts are contagious and spread easily from person to person. 

Although they are common, many people find that talking about warts can be embarrassing, which is why it’s so tempting to try over-the-counter treatments to discreetly take care of plantar warts 一 but is that the best option?

Our team of specialists here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, know that plantar warts can be pesky, and over-the-counter options aren’t reliable to treat deeply rooted warts. 

Below, we share the cons of over-the-counter treatments and what you can try instead.

3 downsides to over-the-counter wart treatments

There are dozens of old wives tales 一 like covering your wart with duct tape 一 when it comes to treating warts, but there are also several different anti-wart products available at pharmacies. This includes liquid medications and medicated patches. 

Here are three downsides to using these products.

1. They contain salicylic acid

Wart removal products typically contain salicylic acid. One of the biggest problems with salicylic acid is that it’s contraindicated for people with diabetes. 

Salicylic acid is a peeling agent, and if you have diabetes, the peeling can lead to the development of slow-healing wounds and even ulcers. Salicylic acid can also cause minor skin irritation, peeling, and skin whitening even in people without diabetes.

2. They don’t penetrate deep enough into your skin

If the seed of your plantar warts is deep in your skin, topical over-the-counter products won’t be able to penetrate the seed, and, unfortunately, your wart will keep coming back until the seed is treated. (The seed is actually clotted blood vessels that feed into the wart.)

3. They aren’t completely effective

While it’s true that some warts can heal on their own, and some may even respond to topical products, the reality is that most over-the-counter treatments only work about 50% of the time

Not only do over-the-counter treatments have a 50-50 chance of working, but they take time to work. It can take weeks to peel away your skin (and therefore the wart) in an attempt to kill the virus. Waiting weeks can be especially tough if it hurts to walk on your wart.

When to seek podiatric care for warts

If you have diabetes, it’s always good practice to skip any DIY treatments and head straight to our office. You might also consider podiatric care if:

Here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, we offer a variety of wart removal treatments, including liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart, laser treatments, and medication. 

While many over-the-counter products claim to “freeze away” warts, liquid nitrogen (which reaches − 196 °C or − 320 °F) is only available in a medical setting. 

The at-home “freezing” products don’t contain liquid nitrogen. Rather, they contain a mixture of propane in dimethyl ether. Cryosurgery (treatment with liquid nitrogen) is safe, effective, and 90% of warts are removed with one treatment.

If you need help eliminating a stubborn wart, call our location closest to you to schedule an appointment or book one anytime with our online scheduling tool.

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