Halloween Post: Why Warts Are Associated with Witches

October 29, 2019

While the skin color, hair, and accessories tend to vary, no image of a witch is complete without a big, unsightly wart on her nose, chin, or cheeks! Since we are a podiatry clinic specializing in plantar warts, as well as other witchy afflictions like bunions, corns, and ingrown toenails, we thought we’d dedicate today’s blog to the strange, spooky history of warts and witchcraft. Keep scrolling to learn why we associate this common affliction with magic and mayhem.  

The Witches’ Mark

During the witch trials of the 16th and 17th century, witch hunters were on high alert for what they called a “Witches’ Mark,” visible evidence that a person had engaged in witchcraft. The mark, also called the Devil’s Mark, was believed to be a permanent blemish the Devil left on his initiates to seal their obedience to him. According to myth, the Devil created the mark by raking his claw across the initiates’ flesh, or by branding them with a hot iron. All witches and sorcerers were believed to have a witches’ mark somewhere on their bodies, waiting to be discovered.

Finding a Witch

Since red-hot brands and devils’ claw markings are not commonly found on humans, witch hunters made do with the natural markings that all humans have: warts, moles, scars, birthmarks, skin tags, supernumerary nipples, rough or discolored patches of skin, and other unusual blemishes. Insect bites, animal scratches, and the Lyme disease “bull’s eye” rash have also been suggested as possible Witches’ Marks. Unfortunately, protests from the victims that the marks were natural were often ignored. And even if a victim did not have any noticeable blemishes, this was usually not enough to save them; witch hunters also believed that the Devil left invisible marks on his servants.

What are Plantar Warts, and How Do I Get Rid of Them?   

Obviously, warts have nothing to do with magic or sorcery. They are skin growths caused when certain strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, enters your body through tiny cuts, breaks or weak spots. Since wart-causing HPV strains thrive in warm, moist environments, they most commonly appear on the bottom of the feet. You may, for instance, contract the virus by walking barefoot around swimming pools or locker rooms.

Although they can cause embarrassment, most plantar warts are physically harmless. However, they can become painful if they grow large enough. If you have a wart which you would like to get rid of, over-the-counter wart removal products are successful about 50% of the time. If the wart continues to grow back, a podiatrist can freeze it off with liquid nitrogen. This is the best option if you want the wart to disappear instantaneously, as over-the-counter treatments usually peel off the wart layer by layer over the course of a few weeks.   

Need a Podiatrist in Concord NC? Call Ryan Foot & Ankle Clinic!

Warts, corns, and calluses are very common—almost everyone gets them at some point! If you’re suffering from a foot or ankle condition, stop by our Concord NC podiatrist to get comprehensive, compassionate care. Click here to schedule an appointment!