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Potato Peels & Plantar Warts

by
author image Linda Tarr Kent
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
Potato Peels & Plantar Warts
Taping a potato skin to your foot is reputed to get rid of plantar warts. Photo Credit carpaumar/iStock/Getty Images

While most plantar warts don’t require medical treatment, they can be painful or bothersome and prompt you to seek a home remedy for clearing them up. One popular remedy utilizes potato peels. Consult a health care provider before treating your warts at home, especially if you have a health condition.

Plantar Wart Identification

Plantar warts that appear on the soles of your feet are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. This virus enters your body through vulnerable sites on the skin of your feet such as breaks or tiny cuts in your skin. Plantar warts don’t require treatment in many cases, and will resolve on their own within a year or two, according to MayoClinic.com. These warts often resist treatment, so patience and persistence are both required to treat them.

Potato Peel Remedy

Taping a piece of raw potato peel to your wart at night is one popular folk remedy for plantar warts. “The Natural Remedy Book for Women,” by psychic, healer and author Diane Stein recommends using this remedy nightly for one week. If your wart has not resolved in one week, Stein advises you to move on to taping a clove of garlic to the affected area. Potatoes are just one food used in tape-on plantar wart remedies. Banana peels and papaya skins also are reputed to work, according to “Linda Page’s Healthy Healing,” by Linda G. Rector-Page.

Expert Insight

The potato remedy can actually work, but probably not due to properties of the tuber taped to your foot, according to podiatrist Christine Dobrowolski, author of the Northcoast Footcare information site. Such remedies work due to occlusion, meaning you cover the wart and keep air from it. This is the same concept employed in the duct tape remedy for warts that received large amounts of media attention in 2002 after an an October 2002 “Archives of Pediatric s and Adolescent Medicine” study concluded that duct tape actually works better than cryotherapy for treating warts. Occlusion therapy generally involves covering your wart for six days, then soaking the wart and gently removing any dead tissue with an emery board or pumice stone, notes MayoClinic.com. You leave the wart exposed for 12 hours, then repeating this treatment until your wart clears up. Duct tape happened to be featured in the study, but moleskin and other coverings work just as well, notes Dobrowolski.

Considerations

The power of suggestion also may be responsible for anecdotal reports of potato skin treatment being effective, according to dermatologist Stephen M. Schleicher in the book, “Skin Sense.” There are documented reports of warts clearing up after hypno and suggestive therapies, which may explain why folk remedies are sometimes effective, Schleicher notes.

If you try the potato skin remedy, do not rub any dead tissue aggressively with your emery board or pumice stone, Dobrowolski advises, because this can cause breaks in surrounding skin and spread the wart-causing virus. If you have nerve damage in your feet, weakened immunity or diabetes, you need to perform any plantar wart treatment under a doctor’s supervision.

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