Plantar warts occur from a viral infection in your skin called the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can enter your skin through cuts. Plantar warts are common on the soles of the feet.

These types of warts can be painful, and the resulting raised bumps uncomfortable. Plantar warts also have “wart seeds,” or tiny black spots that are actually blood vessels. While not necessarily harmful, plantar warts can grow and eventually make it uncomfortable to stand and walk.

It’s possible to treat plantar warts at home, but it’s also important to know when you should see a doctor for medical treatment.

While plantar warts aren’t dangerous, you might want to get them removed due to discomfort and aesthetic reasons. Any wart removal treatment will take several weeks, if not longer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar continues to be studied for a wide range of health uses, including possible wart removal. A 2006 study suggests that the anti-infective properties of the vinegar can help reduce plantar warts. More research is needed to support this, however.

To use apple cider vinegar on your warts, apply with a cotton ball to the affected area twice daily.

Duct tape

One way to gradually get rid of plantar warts is by using duct tape. Stick a small piece of tape to the affected area, and then change the tape at least twice a day. (You might need to change the tape more often for warts on the bottoms of your feet.)

The idea behind duct tape for warts is that it can help “peel away” the layers of the warts. In theory, the wart will eventually peel completely away.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid often used in acne treatment. It works by removing dead skin cells, which can sometimes clog your pores.

Higher concentrations of salicylic acid can be found in over-the-counter (OTC) wart creams and ointments. These products shed the skin around the wart little by little, until it’s eventually cleared up completely.

To get the most out of this treatment measure, you’ll need to apply the salicylic acid on your plantar warts twice per day, every day. It can also be helpful to prep the skin by soaking the affected area in warm water for 10 minutes before applying the acid.

It can take several weeks for the warts to completely go away.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has been historically used as a topical antiseptic. It’s primarily used for fungal infections, wounds, and acne. While not widely studied, tea tree oil may also work for plantar warts.

To try this remedy, apply a small amount of tea tree oil diluted in olive or almond oil to the affected area twice a day.

Milk thistle

Milk thistle is another herbal remedy that may help clear up skin conditions. Unlike tea tree oil, milk thistle has been researched for its antiviral properties. You can apply diluted milk thistle extract to your warts twice a day.

Don’t use this product if you have a history of ragweed allergies.

Iodine

Iodine is an essential mineral that’s most often associated with thyroid health. But certain formulations can be used for other purposes too — this includes wart removal.

One study found that a combination product of providone-iodine topical solution helped clear up warts after twice-daily applications over the course of 12 weeks. You can buy both products from a drugstore.

Still, this type of treatment is best used while under a doctor’s supervision, especially if you have any underlying chronic illnesses like thyroid disease.

OTC freezing sprays

Aside from salicylic acid, you can also buy “freezing sprays” at the drugstore for plantar warts. These liquid nitrogen-containing products are designed to mimic the effects of cryotherapy at a doctor’s office.

The spray works by creating a blister-like injury that sticks to the wart. Once the blister heals, the wart will go away too.

To use freezing spray, dispense the product directly onto your wart for up to 20 seconds. Repeat if necessary. The blister will form and fall off in about one week. After this time, you may decide to repeat treatment if the wart is still there.

You might have to repeat the process several times for up to six weeks.

Calluses are caused by repeated friction against the skin. These are most common on your hands and feet. With a callus, you may notice a raised area of skin that is white in color.

Calluses aren’tthe same thing as plantar warts. Sometimes the two look alike, except calluses don’t have any black spots in them.

Calluses can go away on their own when friction against the skin has stopped, such as when changing tight shoes for a better-fitting pair. The outer skin of the callus may also be cut off or filed away.

It’s possible to have plantar warts inside of a callus. This is because the enhanced friction that’s causing the callus also increases the risk of getting these types of warts, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A plantar wart that grows inward can also create a callus due to increased pressure against your skin.

While plantar warts are caused by the HPV virus, there are other risk factors to consider. You might be at an increased risk of getting plantar warts if you:

  • have a history of plantar warts
  • are a child or a teenager
  • have a weak immune system
  • frequently walk barefoot, especially in germ-prone areas like locker rooms

With the right precautions, plantar warts may be prevented, even if you’re at a higher risk of developing them:

  • Avoid touching warts, including your own.
  • Wash your hands before and after touching a wart.
  • Don’t pick at a plantar wart with your fingers.
  • Avoid using the files and pumice stones you used on affected areas of skin for nonaffected areas.
  • Don’t walk barefoot in public areas.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Change your socks and shoes frequently.

Plantar warts that don’t go away or keep coming back despite home treatments should be looked at by a doctor. They can treat the warts in the office with cryotherapy. They might also recommend prescription-strength foot creams to get rid of the warts for good.

For chronic plantar warts, your doctor may refer you to a foot specialist.

You may want to consider foregoing any home treatments and see your doctor right away if you have:

  • diabetes
  • a generally weak immune system
  • HIV or AIDS
  • solid brown or black warts (these could be cancerous)
  • plantar warts that change in color and size
  • severe discomfort due to the warts
  • changes in your gait

Plantar warts tend to go away eventually, and you may be able to treat them at home.

When in doubt, always ask a doctor for advice, especially if the plantar warts worsen or affect your daily mobility.