Ok, so get ready to grab your flip flops, slippers, socks, tennis shoes and stick them on your feet... This is the real story behind healing plantar warts (yes that's plural) I had for over 8 years and I didn't even know it!!
As a girl who was in and out of soccer locker rooms in high school and goes to the beach, pool walking around barefoot, I thought my feet could handle anything. Mud and sand? No problem. Cold tile floors and rained-on sidewalks? Easy. When living a coastal lifestyle it's important that we put more focus on the soles of our feet. Bacteria, viruses and dirt can get into small cuts caused by dry skin and cause havoc. When that happens your immune system gets the green light and tries to heal the affected area.
However, sometimes the immune system isn't strong enough to kill a hard-to-rid virus. That's what happened to me when I discovered for over 8 years I had plantar warts on the bottom of my right foot. Plantar warts are growths caused by a virus strain related to HPV and are able to spread from person to person directly or indirectly. Although the risk of transmission is very small, if your immune system is weak you have a better chance of becoming infected.
I remember very clearly the day I saw the first wart on my foot. I thought it was a blister from my new soccer cleats that was having a hard time healing. Being very prone to blisters while playing soccer, I brushed off my worry and went on with life.
Flash forward to mid-May 2015... I began to notice the bottom of my right foot was tender when I walked. Weeks later I saw multiple blister like circles and knew something was wrong. These circles were popping up fast. It must have been fate, but one day I stumbled across a pin on Pinterest that had a picture of what looked to be the same circles that were on my foot. I clicked through and read the blog post, and that's when I knew I had a big problem on my hands. PLANTAR WARTS.
Instantly thinking I had to see my doctor to figure out a solution, I made an appointment. It was a few weeks away though and I had to take some sort of action in the mean time. So I headed to YouTube and Pinterest to research what natural home remedy healing routines were working for others.
I read many stories of people having gone to the doctor and being told their only options were surgery or freezing off the wart(s). Those stories mounted with caution that surgery and freezing do not mean the wart won't come back again, sometimes they could even come back bigger and more painful. Pictures and videos of people having opted for surgery were just disgusting. They were left with a hole in their foot practically... NO THANK YOU!
After about a week of research, I decided no surgery and no freezing. I would remove plantar warts naturally with ingredients I could buy at the store.
First, I tried my handy Young Living essential oils: tea tree, lavender, orange and lemon. I applied the mix with a Q-tip, making sure not to use the same one on a different wart. I then I covered with duck tape for the entire day and would only remove the tape before taking a shower. I did this for two weeks and didn't see any improvement, so I felt like I had to switch to another method.
I came across a blog a man created dedicated to telling his plantar wart removal story. He said within weeks of using corn removers and salt soaks, he healed his plantar warts. 3 weeks to heal? That sounded really nice to me :)
Made a stop at my local HEB to buy the cheapest corn removers and a bag of Dr. Teal's pure epsom salt with lavender. I also bought apple cider vinegar with mother, tweezers, Vitamin C softgel pills, more duck tape, and a Pedi-Scrub 4-in-1 foot buffer with olive oil, shea butter, and tea tree oil. I already had on hand sea salt from Shamarwyn so I got that ready to use as well.
That evening, I washed my foot with warm water and my homemade soap. Then, in a small container I poured a cup of salt and filled it with water as hot as I could stand. I soaked the bottom of my foot for 20 minutes and then rinsed with warm water. After dabbing the area dry, I took a cotton ball with apple cider vinegar on it and placed it over all the wart areas. I covered the cotton ball with duck tape, making sure it was tightly on my skin and went to bed. I repeated this routine every night for 3 days before using the corn remover pads instead, and took a Vitamin C pill every morning to help boost my immune system.
After about 3-5 days of apple cider vinegar treatment and starting the use of corn remover pads the skin around the warts began to die and needed to be plucked/scrubbed away. I used tweezers (making sure to disinfect with alcohol after each use) and a foot buffer each time after cleaning and soaking the wart area to remove dead skin. Doing this continuously exposed more and more of the wart. The black area of the wart that had been beneath my skin was finally exposed and I was closer than ever to the wart's roots, which are key in having removed to prevent future growth and stopping the spread of the virus within. I was also making sure to moisturize my feet every night with Vitamin E cream, especially around the heals and around the wart area (but not on them directly) to soothe dry skin.
I eventually saw my doctor later in the week, guess what she said... go see a dermatologist, they'll freeze them off. Ha!... Not doing that.
After about 10 days of keeping up with my routine, my foot became more tender than before I started the healing process, which started to worry me. Was something else wrong? Turned out that the roots of the wart were dying and moving around which was causing me to feel pain. I began to reintroduce apple cider vinegar to my nightly routine to make sure bacteria wouldn't cause any sort of infection.
I still kept at my routine and near the end of the second week while removing dead skin three of the bigger warts came out. Was it painful? Yes, but way better than surgery or freezing them off. With three down and about seven little ones left to go, I still had to continue my normal routine on the others, but cleaned the exposed area of where the bigger warts had been and applied Neosporin with a Q-tip.
Now at week 3, the bottom of my foot looks like this. The layers of skin around the warts that had been removed are healing back, and the wound where the warts had been are also healing. However - I still keep in mind that these types of warts are very stubborn and do have the chance of returning. Therefore, I am still doing salt soaks plus a daily apple cider vinegar dab and if I see any black spots I am removing the surrounding skin and the black spot immediately. I am also still taking the Vitamin C pills every morning.
In about another week I hope to be fully healed and will be keeping a close eye on my foot for a while. This healing doesn't mean I'll start walking barefoot everywhere again though! I've certainly learned my lesson about walking without shoes or socks on potentially contracting bacteria and in this case, a virus, that can be hard and costly to get rid of. *note: each person has a different immune system and therefore the level of effectiveness of treatment will not be the same for everyone.
So parents - keep telling your kids to go back and put either socks or shoes on before walking around the house or public places, and all you teenagers - listen to your parents, you might not understand why but believe me, you do not want to have to pay for it later. O parents, you can show your kids a picture of my foot for reinforcement ;)
Love your feet and they will love you back! Are you trying to heal a plantar wart or know someone who has them? Share your story below in the comments so we all can help each other!
---- UPDATE 12/27/2015:
So it's been about four months since I wrote this post. Within that time with full transparency, I had a relapse and three of the bigger warts came back. I performed the same treatment for this second round as last time, but used more apple cider vinegar than before (morning, day, and night) even though it was a bit more painful. This treatment process lasted nearly all of late September through mid November. Now in late December, I am plantar wart free (knock on wood) with no signs of them returning so far, I only have a nasty scar - but I am OK with that! Above is what my foot looks like as a write this update. It's looking good! :)
---- UPDATE 10/1/2016:
It's been almost 10 months since my update last winter and I'm happy to report I'm still wart free! It's one of the best feelings to have removed these on my own without surgery. Even though there's the risk of them popping back up in the same or different spot, I make sure to be very cautious on where my feet go and what I put on them. Happy feet, happy life!
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