Athlete’s Foot, Toenail Fungus, Plantar Warts, oh my! Fungal and viral conditions of the feet can be unsightly and painful.

Plantar Warts

These uncomfortable warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and feature growths with small ‘heads’ in the center.

After thoroughly washing both feet with soapy, warm water (try Castile soap) and drying thoroughly try using duct tape to suffocate the wart. This requires patience and persistence! Cut the duct tape so it will cover the whole wart and some of the skin surrounding it. Wear it at all times and replace the tape if it gets wet in the shower or from sweating. Some folks notice the wart dissappears or falls off within a week or so of continuous oxygen deprivation.

Mischa Schuler of Wild Carrot Herbs in Cambridge recommends using Blood Root, Greater Celendine, and Goldenseal topically for plantar warts. She notes “Only one of these mentioned needs to be used, not all three at once.” Schuler goes on to say “Internally, we begin thinking about anti-virals and general immune builders. Plantar warts are an indication that overall immunity is down a bit.” Schuler can offer herb recommendations to go along with a topical treatment that will support the body’s overall immune system, give her a call to setup an appointment!

Athlete’s Foot

This is a skin disease caused by a fungus most commonly showing up between the toes as an itchy, burning rash. Mild cases tend to respond well to keeping the feet dry and clean. Massachusetts-based herbalist Mariam Massaro offers WiseWays Herbal Tea Tree Foot Powder. Find it at many of the local Whole Foods or Reading’s Natural Food Exchange on Main Street.

Nail Fungus

This stubborn condition occurs on toenails and can cause brittleness, discoloration (yellowing), thickening and changes in the shape of the nail. Most natural health practitioners recommend avoiding nail polishes and such that trap moisture and the fungus in the nail. Regular ventillation through sandals is also commonly recommended for home care.

ZetaClear is a relatively new product used for nail fungus with natural ingredients such as jojoba plant ester, almond oil, lemongrass and clove essential oils. Another home remedy, in nearly everyone’s pantry, is apple cider vinegar. The thought is to soak the toes in the vinegar daily until the nails began to lose the fungus.

Seeing a Clinician

When pain or conditions persist it is best to consult your primary care physician. He may refer you to a dermatologist or a podiastrist, depending on the condition, or may be able to offer you several choices for treatment. Some conditions may simply run their course while others may require an aggressive treatment plan. Seek advice from a clinician to prevent worsening symptoms.


  • Plantar Warts,, accessed online August 20, 2009.
  • Image by: Leonardo Barbosa
  • Email interview with Mischa Schuler of Wild Carrot Herbs, 2009.

The author originally published this article on Boston Wellness Examiner, August 20, 2009, copyright Amy Kreydin.