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I have a large plantar wart (a wart on the bottom of my foot). It's been resistant to freezing and acid. My dermatologist said I just need to wait until my immune system is ready to get rid of it, and I could try placebo treatments like putting a banana peel on it if I wanted.

I thought he was joking until I recently found out that the banana peel cure is considered a real home remedy. Is there any scientific evidence that it works?

  • (Related, but not about bananas): Warts can be stubborn - cryotherapy might take a while and it can be combined with surgical methods (these are usually minor surgeries). Several factors have to be included (general health, size of the wart, duration, how painful is it for you to walk with it etc), but I wouldn't be content with just giving up and waiting indefinitely - there ought to be a time limit for waiting, after which, if the wart is still unresolved, a different approach might be considered. – Lucky Jul 23 '15 at 15:52
  • Won't comment on bananas, but an old medication originally used for stomach acid reduction has shown some promise in aiding in removal of stubborn viral warts. We used to compound combination wart removing agents that contained the usual acids and cimetidine. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14693487 – TheChinBurglar Aug 24 '16 at 16:02
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Based on my medical knowledge and a literature search, I cannot find evidence to suggest that banana peels are a superior treatment for warts. I saw only one nearly 40-year-old study on PubMed, Warzawer-Schwarcz L. "Treatment of plantar warts with banana skin." Plast Reconstr Surg. 1981 Dec;68(6):975-6. http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Citation/1981/12000/Treatment_of_Plantar_Warts_With_Banana_Skin.35.aspx This study involved taping fresh banana peel every day to the wart using surgical tape, and then scraping chunks out of the softened wart repeatedly. It seems like the primary function of the banana peel was to make the skin damp and soft for scraping. I actually think using just duct tape instead could accomplish a similar function (keeping skin damp), with the advantage that the tape can naturally pull off chunks of wart when you rip it off. Another study found that duct tape actually can be effective for wart removal; researchers theorize this is because the duct tape may be stimulating the immune system (see here: https://www.webmd.com/men/news/20021015/duct-tape-gets-rid-of-warts). Also, personal story, when I was a kid I got rid of a wart on my hand using the duct tape method.

My main recommendation, though, would be to try freezing it off again, or getting it cut out. I don't know how many times you've tried freezing it, but warts can be fairly determined and may require multiple freezings to disappear. You may also want to try a different dermatologist - perhaps your current dermatologist doesn't have good freezing technique. You can also have the wart cut out, though that will have longer recovery time.

I think you've got a lot of options - don't give up! Sometimes a combination of therapies can be effective. For example, I once also got rid of a wart on my foot using drug store salicylic acid stickers, repeated scraping to remove dead skin and dead wart tissue, followed by freezing.

Additional information: Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV16 and HPV18 cause cervical cancer; HPV6 and HPV11 cause genital warts and laryngeal papillomatosis; but there are also many types of HPV that are not sexually transmitted and merely cause skin warts (see the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_papillomavirus_infection).

  • OK. But 1. the OP already called it 'placebo' 2. the peel is also taped on (and changed daily). Second link is of comparable evidence as for the peel. Weigh both in and/or find stronger evidence for tape. Both seem to rely on a similar mechanism of action. – Then I would say OK+1 ;) – LаngLаngС Oct 25 '17 at 16:29
  • Interestingly pubmed stumbles here. But there are sources supporting the banana (quality and strength to be judged) [Siddique "Phytochemical screening"/ Pullen "Waging War on Warts" / Sudhakar "Therapeutic Approaches in the Management of Plantar Warts" ] – LаngLаngС Oct 25 '17 at 16:35
  • And now it's +1 ;) Thx! – LаngLаngС Dec 10 '17 at 10:10
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It seems you're expecting yes or no answer, but it's not possible as different warts are caused by different factors (e.g. often by HPV and 35 other which can result in potassium deficiency) and it also should be not confused with moles which can look similar or some warts can turn into cancerous tumors.

Wart removal rarely involves anything more complicated than an at-home remedy and usually over-the-counter medicines can help (liquid, cream, or bandage forms) by applying them directly to the wart. Other traditional methods include freezing or placing a small piece of duct tape.

Though a potassium deficiency is not directly responsible for causing warts, it can be a contributing factor to outbreaks. So warts are the effects of being low in potassium, so it's likely that banana peels would help in this case as it's rich in potassium (as well as potato peels and Apple Cider Vinegar). And increasing your intake of potassium will limit the chances of your warts coming back. Bananas are considered safe to use as there are no side effects.

So I'd say it's worth to try.

See also:

  • Warts at Natural Remedies
  • Natural Cures for Warts - More Than Home Remedies
  • Warts & Moles at Herbal Legacy

    Warts and moles are usually the result of a nutritional deficiency and they should be treated internally, as well as externally.

    Potassium Deficiency for Warts and Moles: When cysts or tumors grow in places where they can be seen outside the body, often we react by having them cut out. This defeats healing by working on the effect instead of the cause. You can cut cysts out, tumors off, and burn warts off (which are also a potassium deficiency), or get rid of as many moles as you wish, but unless you go to the cause, they will grow back again, and you may end up with as many or more cysts, tumors, moles as before. Different signs of potassium deficiency will keep popping out on the body because the condition that needs correcting is on the inside. You have to go into the cause, Dr. Christopher always insisted, which is the way we have been eating. [EWH p.125] Potassium sources: There are several ways to receive your potassium. Dr. Bernard Jensen sells a potassium broth made from dehydrated vegetables. Dr. Bronner makes a similar, excellent product. You can also make your own potassium broth by simmering equal parts of red potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, and herbs to taste. Raw vegetable and fruit juices also flood the system with potassium. [EWH p.125]

  • Tips, Tips and More Tips by Anne J.B. Skinner (p. 103, 113)

There are very few studies that directly tie diet and mineral deficiencies to immune system function. So it's likely there is no scientific evidence that banana peels or vinegar (ACV) is an effective treatment for wart removal.

Here is one which I've found close enough: Evaluation of Topical Potassium Hydroxide Solution for Treatment of Plane Warts and the conclusion was:

Topical KOH solution is proved to be an effective and safe treatment of plane warts in both concentrations (5% and 10%) with no important side effects.

  • 3
    I've never heard that warts are caused by potassium deficiency, only that they're caused by HPV. Do you have any evidence for that assertion? (Otherwise the KOH study is fascinating, thanks!) – Zaralynda Apr 2 '15 at 14:24
  • @Zaralynda A potassium deficiency is not directly responsible for causing warts, it can be a contributing factor to outbreaks. The main cause usually is viral infection (such as HPV). – kenorb Apr 2 '15 at 15:04
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    The edits to this post aren't really good, reliable resources. I can find stories on the internet all day of folks who claimed it worked, but that doesn't mean there's anything behind it other than spontaneous remission of the virus or placebo effect. – Zaralynda Apr 4 '15 at 11:16

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