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Plantar warts are small growths that occur over the plantar foot surface (soles). They occur mainly in the weight-bearing areas such as the heels, ball of the foot, beneath the big toe etc., caused by the Human papilloma virus (HPV). When the skin is damaged like by a cut or scrape, the virus can enter, multiply and form a growth. Plantar warts are common in children, young adults and anybody who is immuno-compromized. Individuals who walk barefoot, people with a weak immune system, like diabetics, also have a higher risk of getting plantar warts.
What are the symptoms of plantar warts?
They appear as a growth which is skin colored or fleshy.
They can be single or multiple (as clusters).
It is rough to the touch with an irregular surface and tiny black spots within the growth.
The lesion can be raised from the surface or flat.
When the wart grows larger, it can lead to callus formation on its surface and as such become even more painful. Calluses are also called corns which present as hard and well defined skin thickening.
Pain can occur when walking or standing for long periods of time.
The pain and tenderness can alter posture and gait. Complications are rare. Infection or ulceration can occur when the wart is self-treated like trying to trim the callus with sharp instruments at home. However, in diabetics and those with a weak immune system, plantar warts can be wide-spread and severe.
Treatment of plantar warts
Plantar warts are not a serious health issue. They may heal spontaneously even without treatment as children grow and young adults mature. This occurs because their immune systems catch up with the body's size and maturity level. However, treatment is still recommended to avoid pain and any complications from excessive pressure underneath the calluses.
Diabetics may have reduced sensation in their feet. This means patients absolutely have to look after their feet properly, paying special attention to them. Patients should not attempt to remove plantar warts by themselves as it can damage the skin and cause complications like infection and ulceration under the callus.
How can a podiatrist help you?
After examining your feet, once the diagnosis is made, we can prescribe certain topical medications for you to apply regularly over your wart.
50% Salicylic acid – Salicylic acid is a keratolytic which removes dead skin. Applying salicylic acid regularly will burn the wart and peel off the layers of skin covering the wart. Liquid should be applied only on the wart and not over the surrounding skin as it can burn and damage normal tissue.
Duo film – to soften the wart causing it to peel off.
TCA (Tri-chloro acetic acid) to burn the lesion. This treatment is carried out at least weekly, for a few weeks.
If the above treatments fail, or you are unable to do it by yourself due to poor eyesight or any other reason, we can treat you in our podiatry clinic. Cryotherapy can be done to freeze your warts, using liquid nitrogen. For larger warts, paring of the wart will be done prior to cryotherapy.
If lesions are severe, surgical removal or LASER treatment is considered. However, surgical treatment is usually not recommended to treat plantar warts as it can cause scarring.
Plantar warts are difficult to eliminate. Even after successful removal, they can come back. After your podiatrist treats your warts, it is important to protect your feet from getting re-infected by keeping them clean and dry and by avoiding walking barefoot.
If you find your plantar warts troublesome, make an appointment with us at Magdalena Blasko, DPM, Inc. today and let us take care of it for you.