Appalachia Appalachian Medicine Folklore

What To Do For Warts

how to remove warts

A few of my past posts continue to be quite popular. Even though it may have been years since I shared the posts here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn, internet search engines bring people to visit them on a regular basis.

One of the old posts that is still garnering attention, as well as comments, is one I wrote back in 2011 about the mystery of folks who are able to remove warts by seemingly magical ways.

I’ve never had a wart before, but I did have some hideous growth on the inside of my thumb when I was pregnant with the girls.

My pregnancy was filled with one complication after the other. The weird growth was the most annoying and embarrassing. The condition has some long hard to say name, but I can’t remember what it was. The doc who removed it explained it like this: I had injured my thumb in some small minor way-maybe I got a splinter or pricked it on a straight pen. My pregnant body went into over drive sending way too many resources to fix my thumb which resulted in a growth full of blood that bled all over the place at the slightest touch. A plastic surgeon removed the disgusting mass. He said it might come back, but thank goodness it didn’t although I do still have a scar.

I’ve heard about folks who could remove warts all my life. I thought about going to see such a person for my weird growth but since it wasn’t really a wart and I was at the doctors office practically every single week I let them take care of it.

The most common methods of magically removing warts are related to rubbing, buying, and counting. Here are two examples straight from the mouths of two long time Blind Pig readers.


Garland Davis:

I had numerous warts on my hands. Everyone told me that they were caused by playing with toads and letting them piss on your hands. I remember thinking that wasn’t right. I knew that I hadn’t touched any toads. I remember trying to keep my hands in my pockets so that people wouldn’t see my warts. My parents tried any number of homemade potions to no avail. Some things from the drugstore were tried, but again no remedy for my warts. I remember going to the doctor and him telling them that I was too young to have them “burned” off.

We carried my ‘Granny’ Salmons to Yadkin County one Sunday afternoon to visit some friends. I remember that it was late in the day and Daddy was ready to leave. She told them to wait that she was going to take me to get my warts “witched”. She led me for a long distance (probably not that far, but to a little boy, quite a distance) down a path through the woods. We eventually came to a log house. An old (again, old is relative to my age) woman came out and talked with my grandmother.

Granny gave her a sack that she had brought. The old lady sat me down on the stoop to the cabin door and started touching the warts on my hands. She then took a piece of cord and tied a number of knots in it (I later realized that she was counting the warts and tied a knot for each one.) She then hung the cord around my neck and led me by the hand around the yard. She then took the cord and went into the woods. She returned and told me that my warts would leave me to look for the cord. She said if I ever tried to find the cord all my warts would return. We left and went back home. Within a few days, all my warts, except one, disappeared. I still have that one wart on the knuckle of my ring finger and have had it my whole life. I always figured that she missed counting it.


Miss Cindy:

When I was around 10 years old I had a wart on my left thumb. It was on the side of my thumb at the knuckle. The wart measured about 3/8 inch across. That’s fairly large on a 10 year old hand. My folks took me to the doctor for removal. The doctor burned it off. It wasn’t long till it came back, so it was back to the doctor. This time he cut it off but again, it came back.

My cousin, Zoolie also had a wart. Hers was on the thumb also but it was on the side growing partially into the nail. It was about the same size wart as mine. Her folks took her to a dermatologist. They were really concerned because of the way it grew into the fingernail. The dermatologist removed it several times, several different ways. Each time it grew back.

My dad finally said “enough, get in the car, both of you”. He took us to an old man in Henson Cove above Canton, not too far from my grandmothers house. I think the man’s name was Mr. Hall. He looked at both warts, rubbed them and sent us on our way.

I looked down a couple of weeks later and it was gone, I called Zoolie and her wart was gone as well.

I don’t know what to tell you happened…..the warts were gone and never returned.


When The Deer Hunter and I first met, he had two or three warts on his hand. After dating him for a few months I was so head over heels in love that I paid the warts no attention and didn’t even notice they were gone until he pointed it out. He said he’d grown up hearing about folks getting their warts rubbed by someone with special powers-so every time he thought about it he rubbed his. In a few weeks they were gone. I still tease him about having magical wart removing powers.



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  • Reply
    June 4, 2021 at 3:49 am

    I live in the west of England, so quite far from Appalachia, but I have a wart removal story that might be of interest. As a kid I had a lot of warts, and like others have described in their comments on your posts, these were seed warts with a black coloured “root”. I had cut them off a few times myself with a sterilised hot knife but they would always grow back. My mum who had a lot of traditional knowledge told me to rub the warts in the May Day (1st of May) dew at dawn. So I waited for May Day and did exactly that and within a week they shriveled up and fell off. They never came back again and I have never had a wart or veruca since. May Day is Beltane in the Celtic calendar, the first day of Summer, and considered a “magical” day but I always suspected there might be something abundant in the natural chemistry around that time of year that kills the wart virus cells.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    April 13, 2017 at 9:08 am

    My son had a wart on his ankle a few years ago and it got big enough that his shoe was rubbing against it making it raw. After a couple attempts using Compound W and it not going away, I done what I should have done in the first place and asked Granny. She said to rub Castor Oil on it once or twice a day and it would go away before long. It did and so far it hasn’t came back. 🙂

  • Reply
    P. Page
    April 12, 2017 at 8:08 am

    My grandmother grew up in Marble NC. When I was 11 years old, I had an inconvenient wart appear in the middle of my right palm. My grandmother took 7 leaves each from a different tree and rubbed my warts with them. She buried the leaves under a rock which only she knew the location. She told me when the leaves rotted my wart would be gone. Since I am now 70, I do not remember how long that took, but the wart left never to return. Maybe it was just time for them to be gone? But at 11, it was magic to me.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    April 12, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Dr. Acree was a medical doctor in Hiawassee, GA in the late 1950s and later. He was unusual as a formally-trained doctor who respected the ‘old ways’ of folk medicine. In fact, he was considered a ‘wart witch’ himself. I remember going to him as a child, and he rubbed a wart I had with the ball of his thumb and told my Mom, “That wart will be gone in about a week or two.” It was!

  • Reply
    Crystal Richmond
    April 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    My granddaughter was 7 yrs old she had a wart on her ring finger. Her Mother cut a potato in half. Every night for a week she rubbed a cut potato on the wart. By end of week it was GONE. It has never returned. She will be 12 in August. You never know:)
    Crys Richmond
    Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 11, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    One more thing….I always heard….if you have toads and frogs, birds, butterflies and bees…a bit of ragweed and wildflowers…you have a fertile plot of ground…sort of Mother Natures balance!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 11, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    When we were kids we chanted some sort of verse and the warts were supposed to go away. For the life of me I can’t think of the words right now…They will come to me in the middle of the night sometime I suppose.
    Every time I would catch one of those brownish warty NC toads if my grandmother saw me with it she would have one more hissy-fit…Making me take my toad back to the garden or edge of the woods. She absolutely swore that toads caused warts! If that were true, I should be covered in warts. in fact I should be one big ole walking wart…MY frog catching days continue even now…I occasionally catch a Banjo Frog in the goldfish pond when we are cleaning It out…Those little green frogs hop on my garden plants and I lift them up and away when we are pulling weeds…I have boo-coos of those little grey peepers that take up residence near the windows and air-conditioner in the summer…Occasionally they will take up housekeeping in a bird house….I have had to pick one or two out of my garden sneakers that I keep outside on the porch….I make little frog and toad houses by turning clay flower pots upside down…They are wonderful pest catchers….
    Thanks Tipper,
    Great post, I loved it….warts and all!

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    April 11, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I have several warts on my hands as a third grader, and I was very stressed about it because of being teased at school so much. My paternal grandmother said to take a used dishrag and rub the warts; then bury the dishrag in the garden and never go look at it again. I did it and the warts soon disappeared. It made me a believer in folk medicine. Later, becoming a nurse, I found out warts are a virus. When one quits worrying about warts and the body does not stress over them, the virus tends to heal. The folk cure gives one faith to heal; no stress; and the body can cure itself. Isn’t the body wonderful, and weren’t our grandmothers so smart?

    • Reply
      Ray Pardue
      September 23, 2020 at 10:35 am

      In northeast Tennessee, where I grew up many years ago on the shores of Horse Creek, the buried dishrag was talked about, but I never saw it tried (probably because we never threw anything away, living in quite modest circumstances). Folklore held that rubbing the warts with a freshly cut shoot from a peach tree would remove them (and did, temporarily), and that rubbing them with a copper penny would work also (again, it did, temporarily). Removal was finally realized when my mother’s second husband brought home a small vial of silver nitrate from the plant where he worked. A few drops on each of my numerous hand warts turned them black, and they soon fell away.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 11, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    It’s amazing, nobody knows how it works but warts can be removed as evidenced by all these stories. I’ve experienced it and the deer Hunter removed his own. How in the world does it happen?

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    April 11, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    My Grandmother did what we called pow wow. She would spit on her finger, rub it around the wart and recite something from the bible. Off went the warts in a few weeks.
    I asked her to teach me how to do it and she said it had to go from woman to man and then from man to woman.
    I tried to get my younger brother to learn and teach me but he said he didn’t want any thing to do with mumbo jumbo and he thought it was evil.
    Now I wish I had asked a cousin or some other male so I could have learned.
    I do know my mother told me it was all from the bible.

    • Reply
      chirrl whatley
      October 6, 2021 at 11:33 am

      My Grandmother was a wonderful Christian as a grade schooler I too had warts on my hand we know it’s a virus but a pesky one anyway grandma pricked my warts with a needle put the blood from my warts on corn that had been dried and fed it to the chickens .they just disappeared NO NOT THE CHICKENS THE WARTS and never ever came back and I am 67 years old. It was a Faith Healing !!!

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    April 11, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    My Grandfather could ‘remove’ warts and he would only ask “how many do do you have.”? I counted wrong the first time, 6 but there were 7 on fingers. Then they just disappeared without me ever actually knowing when…? I’ll say this, I NEVER believed it until I did it.!
    Then some 25 years later my youngest son at 12 years old had 2-3 on his fingers also ( many trips to dermatologist) so I ended up taking him to old woman on Little East Fork Rd and she led him down toward the river. ( I couldn’t go as witness.) A few weeks later his were gone also.. forever.
    I don’t know what kind of sorcery or intervention was involved but I can tell you it worked after everything else failed.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    At 1:57 today, my issue of the Bling Pig and the Acorn came in. I had already looked under yesterday’s post, under Recent Posts and commented already. I had done looked under Trash and
    Spam and it wasn’t there. These things just amaze me! Reminds me of a farmer counting Cows.
    He uses a Cow-culator. …Ken

  • Reply
    Maria Jett
    April 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    When I was little I had a seed wart right in my eyebrow. My mom was loathe to get it burned off because of its proximity to my eye. Then one day my Aunt Maude came to visit. That side of the family had come to Washington State from Booneville, KY, and she knew all sorts of ancient secrets. She told me to rub a bean leaf on it until it went away. I did this for about a week–resulting in a greenish eyebrow–but it went away and never came back. Aunt Maude has been my grannywoman heroine ever since. She taught me about the power of plant medicine and saved me from my cousins, who could no longer refer to me as “wartface.” So grateful.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I had one on my ring finger that a Dr. removed a couple of times. He said it would always come back because, “It’s a seed wart”. It would grow out and split at the top and I would bump it or snag it on something and tear a section off. It would bleed for days. I cut it off with my knife several times and it still grew back. In my early twenties I hit something and jerked about half of it off. I had access to sulfuric acid. I trimmed off the rest and put a couple of drops of acid on it. When I couldn’t stand the pain I held my hand under running water. After several repetitions I had a deep hole in my finger. I kept it wrapped for a few days and after more than fifty years it has not come back. I guess I killed the “seed”.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    When I was in Elementary School I had two seed warts on my writing hand. I had such a pretty hand-writing anyway and this thing was on the inside of my longest finger. It hurt to write, but I took the blooming flu for about a week. Soon as I got over the flu, I noticed the seed warts were gone. It’s been over 50 years now and they’ve never returned. …Ken

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Growing up we had our own personal wart removing neighbor. I had to compare notes with my sis to figure how he removed the warts from our hands at different times. This would have been In the fifties. I had numerous warts, and they were ugly and bothersome. I remembered selling them to him for a copper penny. She recalls part of the process was he took an old dishrag to bury after rubbing the warts.. Whatever he did it worked, as within the next few days every single wart on my hand was gone. She recalls hers disappeared also, and he removed hers at a different time. No, he did not look strange but was a nice sweet older neighbor. I believe I posted on your blog a few years back, but did not remember all the details. Sis helped me with recalling a different part of the ritual. This is one of many experiences that totally proves to me that we as humans have more than just the five senses.
    My Dad came from a huge family and was the ninth son. He was not the seventh son which oral history claimed was supposed to have special powers. His uncle had shown him how to use healing powers, but he never did try it nor did he share the process with us. The uncle had warned him was to be kept secret unless shared with a son. Just one of the many things I wish I had asked more questions about. Once again you have caused me to reach back in my grab bag of bits and pieces of memories. The marking of babies was very real concern I those days!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

    It wasn’t warts but something akin. My daughter Missy had fever blisters when she was little. Not on her lips like normal people, no. Hers were on her chin and they turned into sores if left untreated. That was 40 years ago and a dermatologist said there was no commercially available treatment but that he knew something that might help. He wrote a prescription for ether. Yes, the stuff that was used to put people to sleep in bygone days.
    It came in a metal can with a lead top. The can was hard to use so I poured small amounts in a glass medicine bottle. Not much because it would evaporate even with the top close tightly. I learned quickly that I couldn’t work with the stuff inside. The vapor would fill the whole house in a matter of seconds. I was afraid there would be a spark and the house would explore.
    Every morning and evening, no matter the weather, whenever the virus was active Missy and I would go outside and I would take a q-tip and put ether on her chin. She would hold her breath and I would dab that noxious stuff on her chin. Even outside it was difficult to breathe around it. But, it worked! Three or four days of ether treatments and it would be dried up and gone. At least for a while. Every few months it would come back and we would go through the process again.
    Turns out it was a herpes virus and you can never completely get rid of it. Missy also had shingles at five years old but never had chickenpox. Shingles and chickenpox are also herpes viruses.
    I never had warts as a kid but had a few as an adult. I used to burn them off myself when I was working. I had easy access to dry ice and would put a little piece on the wart and let it freeze it off. Just like a doctor would do and a whole lot cheaper.

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