What is a wart, anyway?

You’re tickling your child’s food and you notice a spot that is not like the others. It’s hard, grainy, a bit like a knot of skin and it might have some black or brownish speckles to it. Plantar’s warts are found exclusively on the feet and might cause pain while walking, especially when they are large in size. 

Plantar warts are caused by a type of human papilloma virus (did you know there are more than 100 types of HPV?) that specifically targets the skin of the feet.

You can get plantar warts from exposure to the virus when walking barefoot in a warm, wet environment and having cracks or cuts on your feet or when your feet are wet and soft. Places people often pick up warts: swimming pools and locker rooms.

How to prevent getting plantar warts:

  • Eat a healthy diet high in vegetables, fresh fruit, healthy meats, healthy fats and some complex carbs and very low in processed foods.
  • Make sure the feet are warm and dry when not in water. If you or your child have cold/clammy feet there is much more possibility of infection. Wear shoes your feet can breathe in: canvas or leather are much preferred to plastic based shoe-wear.
  • Wear shower shoes or flip flops when at the gym or pool.

So what to do?

Often warts will resolve on their own, but it might take a few years. If the wart is problematic, unsightly, you don’t want to risk spreading it to others or you just want it gone there are faster ways to move them on their way.

Precautions: if the person with the wart has poor circulation, low immune function or Diabetes you need to speak with their doctor before doing any ‘at home’ treatments.

It is always a good idea to get a professional medical opinion if you are not certain what you are dealing with. Maybe you think it’s a wart but you’re not 100% certain. Err on the safe side; see the doctor before starting homecare.

If there are signs of infection (red, hot, pus) then go in to see the doctor for further support.

Home treatments:

Internal/immune boosting treatments:

We are all exposed to viruses, bacteria and fungi that can cause disease on a regular basis, but most of us never show signs of illness because our body is able to fight off the invaders. Sometimes the body needs a little support to boost the immune function.

I suggest patients do both an immune boosting treatment and a topical treatment to get rid of warts, although often just the topical treatment will do the trick.

  • Make sure the patient’s nutrition is optimal: avoid processed foods and reduce sugar intake. The diet should be focused on vegetables, some fruit, protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
  • If the patient is not already taking a quality multivitamin please have them start. Especially helpful are the antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E as well as Zinc. Consult with your doctor regarding the correct dosage for your patient.
  • Liver supporting herbs and foods to support overall detox of the body: milk thistle, beets, turmeric, artichokes, leafy greens.
  • Antiviral herbs that can be taken in tea, tincture or glycerite form: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): if the patient has high blood pressure do not use this as it can increase blood pressure, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). *
  • Immune boosting herbs such as Echinacea and Elderberry (Sambucus). *

*If the patient has a compromised immune system please speak with their doctor before beginning herbal treatments.

Topical Treatments:

Before doing any of the following treatments: wash feet thoroughly with soap and water. I suggest doing the treatments after the patient’s been soaking in the bathtub for a while so the foot skin is softer. You can also have them do a foot soak for at least 5 minutes before hand.

After the soaking/cleaning: get a pumice stone or Emory board and gently abrade the surface of the wart for 30 seconds or so to help remove the top layers of skin. Please do this over a towel or the sink or bathtub: something that can be easily cleaned up so the wart is not passed on to others.

After prepping the foot do one of the following treatments:

  • Salicylic acid treatments such as an over the counter wart remover you can get at the drug store. Apply to the wart and then bandage the foot with a padded bandage to keep the medicine on the skin. This treatment can be left on the foot for 2 days and then you do it all over again for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone, whichever comes first.
  • One to two drops of essential oils of Thuja or Tea Tree can be painted on the area and then covered with a bandage. If the patient has callused feet then a straight or ‘neat’ application of the essential oil on the foot only is probably safe. If the foot skin is soft then use a carrier oil such as coconut oil to apply the oils: my recipe for application to thicker areas of skin like the bottom of the feet: 10 drops essential oil per ½ teaspoon carrier oil: paint only the amount needed on the wart, not the entire ½ teaspoon: save what you’ve made and use it for a later application.   Please do not ever have your child ingest essential oils, this can be life threatening!
  • Do this treatment daily: before bed is usually best so the bandage is more likely to stay on. Can be done for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone, whichever comes first.
  • A slice of fresh, raw garlic cut to fit the wart and held on with a bandage. Do this treatment daily: before bed is usually best so the bandage is more likely to stay on. Can be done for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone, whichever comes first.
  • The inside of a green banana cut to fit the wart and held on with a bandage. You can add a drop of Thuja or Tea Tree essential oil (neat or in a carrier oil depending on your patient). Do this treatment daily: before bed is usually best so the bandage is more likely to stay on. Can be done for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone, whichever comes first.
  • A paste made of castor oil and baking soda: 1 part castor oil to 2 parts baking soda. Apply and cover with a bandage. This treatment will need to be done two times a day for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone.
  • A paste made of vitamin C powder mixed with garlic oil: 1 part garlic oil to 2 parts vitamin C powder. Apply and cover with a bandage. Do before bed daily for up to 12 weeks or until the wart is gone.
  • If you have access to fresh dandelion leaves you can apply the white latex from the broken stems three times a day for 2 weeks. After applying the latex cover the wart with a bandage.

Dr. Corinne Harpster is a naturopathic pediatrician at SageMED in Bellevue, WA. She is currently accepting new patients.

 


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Corinne Harpster
Corinne Harpster

Dr. Harpster received her Doctoral degree in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in 2009 where she is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Botanical Medicine department. She specializes in pediatrics and is especially passionate about working with patients on the Autism spectrum. She is the head of the pediatrics department at SageMED in the Factoria area of Bellevue, WA.

Dr. Corinne lives in Kirkland with her wonderful husband and amazing daughter. She especially enjoys playing at the parks with her family, cooking nourishing, traditional whole foods, reading, and spending time in the forest and at the beach. You can reach Dr. Corinne at Sagemed.co

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