Understanding Plantar Warts: Those Unwanted Visitors On Your Feet
If you've noticed a small, grainy growth on the bottom of your foot, you may be dealing with a plantar wart. A viral infection causes these pesky little growths, which can be painful if left untreated. While plantar warts are relatively common, they can be difficult to get rid of and may require professional treatment.
This article will explain plantar warts, identify them, and the best methods for treating and preventing them. By the end of this article, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any unwanted foot guests that may come your way!
What Is a Plantar Wart?
A plantar wart is a small, hard growth that occurs on the foot, most commonly on the soles Plantar warts are induced by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which enters the body through small cuts or breaks in the skin. The HPV virus thrives in warm, moist environments, which is why plantar warts are more common in people who frequently walk barefoot in public places such as gym showers, locker rooms, and pool decks.
Most plantar warts can be painful, especially when walking on them. They may feel like you're stepping on a pebble or a small stone. If left untreated, plantar warts may spread and cause additional growths to appear on the foot. These viral lesions are also highly contagious and can be spread to family members or anyone walking in your path. It is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment of plantar warts.
Plantar Warts vs. Corns
Plantar warts and corns are common foot conditions that cause pain and discomfort. While they may look alike at first glance, they have some key differences that can help you distinguish between them.
Plantar warts can be stubborn and may require multiple treatments to resolve completely. In the meantime, you can prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands frequently and avoiding walking barefoot in public places.
Corns, on the other hand, are small, round areas of hard, thickened skin that can form on the top surfaces of the small toes, especially over a joint or on the sole of the foot . They are usually caused by pressure on the skin, such as from ill-fitting shoes.
If you're unsure whether you have a plantar wart or corn, it's important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of Plantar Warts
The plantar wart is often contracted while barefoot walking on unclean surfaces or littered ground where the virus lurks. The virus is sustained in warm, moist environments. If left untreated, warts can expand to an inch or more in diameter and circulate into clusters of several warts. Warts can last for varying lengths of time, averaging about 18 months. In addition to HPV, several other risk factors may develop plantar warts, including:
Age: Children and teenagers are more susceptible to plantar warts due to activities that lead to being barefoot Foot injuries: If you have a cut or abrasion on your foot, you may be more likely to develop warts.
Sweaty feet: Moist, sweaty feet are more prone to developing plantar warts.
Poor hygiene: Not washing your feet regularly or wearing dirty socks and shoes may increase your risk of developing plantar warts.
Symptoms of Plantar Warts
The main symptom of a plantar wart is a small, hard growth on the sole. Other common symptoms may include the following:
Black dots: Plantar warts often have small, black dots on the surface, which are tiny blood vessels.
Pain: Plantar warts can be painful, especially when walking on them. They may feel like you're stepping on a pebble or a small stone.
Difficulty walking: In severe cases, plantar warts may cause difficulty walking due to pain and discomfort.
Home Treatment Options
At Northern Ankle Foot Associates, our team of podiatrists is equipped to diagnose and treat plantar warts using various methods. Some of the home treatment options that we may recommend include:
This is a common over-the-counter treatment for plantar warts. Salicylic acid works by breaking down the layers of skin on the wart, eventually allowing it to peel off. It is essential to follow the instructions on the product label carefully and to be patient, as it may take several weeks for the wart to resolve fully.
This method involves freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen or another freezing agent. Cryotherapy can be painful and may require multiple treatments to be effective.
It's important to note that home treatment options may only be suitable for some and may only sometimes be effective in treating mosaic warts. If you're experiencing pain or discomfort from a plantar wart, it's important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Medical Procedures For Plantar Warts
If home treatment options are ineffective in treating a plantar wart, your healthcare provider at Northern Ankle Foot Associates may recommend a medical procedure to remove the wart. Some of the medical procedures that may be used to treat plantar warts include:
This procedure involves using a laser to destroy the blood vessels that feed the wart, causing it to die. Laser treatment is generally considered safe and effective, but it may be more expensive than other treatment options.
Laser treatment allows the healthcare provider to target the wart tissue precisely, minimizing the risk of damaging surrounding healthy tissue. It typically has a shorter recovery time than other treatment options, such as surgery. It usually results in minimal scarring, as the laser seals the blood vessels and cuts through the skin.
In many cases, laser treatment is effective after just one treatment, whereas other treatment options may require multiple treatments to be effective.
Sometimes, a healthcare provider may recommend surgical removal of a plantar wart. This may be necessary if the wart is particularly large or resistant to other treatments. This procedure involves cutting out the entire wart and any surrounding infected tissue using a scalpel or other sharp instrument.
Electrocautery is a medical procedure that involves using an electric current to destroy plantar wart tissue. During the procedure, the healthcare provider will apply a special instrument to the wart that delivers an electric current to the tissue. The current causes the tissue to heat up and destroys the wart cells.
Electrocautery is generally considered safe and effective for removing plantar warts, but it may be more painful than other treatment options. It's important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of electrocautery with your healthcare provider before deciding whether it is the right treatment option for you.
Bleomycin injections, a chemotherapy medication, may be used to treat plantar warts. The healthcare provider will inject small bleomycin directly into the wart during the procedure. The medication destroys the cells that make up the wart, causing it to die and fall off.
Bleomycin injections are generally effective in treating plantar warts but may cause side effects such as pain and swelling. It's important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of this treatment option with your healthcare provider before deciding whether it is right for you.
Northern Ankle Foot Is Here For You!
At Northern Ankle Foot Associates, our team of podiatrists are dedicated to providing high-quality care for all your foot and ankle needs. We are equipped to diagnose and treat many foot and ankle conditions, including plantar warts.
In addition to traditional treatment options, we also offer a range of innovative, cutting-edge treatments, such as laser surgery and PRP injections, to help our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from a plantar wart or any other foot or ankle condition, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment today!