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Treatment for plantar warts


What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts are small growths on the bottoms of your feet, and they are contagious (spread easily from person to person). They are caused by infection with a virus. Your child is more likely to get the virus if he has a weak immune system. Having cancer or another disease treated at St. Jude, or getting treatment such as chemotherapy, can weaken your child’s immune system.

The virus that causes plantar warts is not life threatening, but the warts can be hard to get rid of. The doctor might need to try more than one (1) treatment.

How are plantar warts treated?

There are several different ways to treat plantar warts. These include:

  • Putting a mild acid called salicylic acid on the wart,
  • Putting a strong medicine called cantharidin on the wart, and
  • Having minor surgery to take off the wart.

At the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic, the doctor usually does cantharidin treatment first. This treatment is inexpensive and usually works. If it does not work, the doctor might do minor surgery to take off your child’s wart.

About cantharidin treatment

Cantharidin treatment is done at the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic. The doctor puts a strong medicine called cantharidin on the wart and covers it with a bandage. Your child can do normal activities after treatment, but should not take a bath or shower for 24 hours or until told to do so.

On the third day after the treatment, put a piece of duct tape over the place that was treated. Use the silver duct tape because it sticks better than the clear kind. If the tape falls off, put on a new piece. Keep the treated area covered with duct tape.

Bring your child back to the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic 10 to 14 days after the cantharidin treatment. The doctor will check the foot and do any other treatments your child needs.

About minor surgery for plantar warts

If cantharidin treatment does not work, the doctor might do minor surgery to take off the wart. This is done at the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic.

First, your child gets an injection (shot) to numb his foot. Then the doctor uses a small blade to take off the wart. After that, your child’s foot is bandaged, and you can leave the clinic.

After the wart is taken off, your child should:

  • Keep the bandage on all day,
  • Rest with his foot up for the rest of the day, and
  • Use the medicine given by the doctor if needed.

You can take off your child’s bandage the next morning, and he can take a shower or bath. After that, put antibiotic ointment on the place where the wart was taken off. Cover it with a self-stick bandage, but not too tightly. If the bandage falls off, you can put on a new one.

Keep using the antibiotic ointment and bandages until your child’s next appointment at the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic.

Ways to prevent plantar warts

To help prevent plantar warts, your child should:

  • Wash his hands and feet well,
  • Dry the area between the toes completely, and
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops in locker rooms, public showers, and other public places.

Discuss other ways to keep your child’s feet dry with the doctor,

If family members have warts, they should seek medical treatment.

Keep your child from sharing shoes with other children and picking at any warts he has. Doing these things can spread the virus that causes plantar warts. After your child receives the last treatment at the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic, use disinfectant to clean anything your child walks on with bare feet, such as the shower, carpets, and floor. Also, disinfect your child’s shoes. Use Lysol® spray to disinfect carpets and shoes, and use a cleaner with bleach in the shower.


If you have questions plantar warts, please call the St. Jude Podiatry Clinic at 901-595-5372.

Adapted for use from Wolf River Family Footcare, by permission.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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