Plantar Warts

What are Plantar Warts?

A wart is an infection caused by a virus, which can enter your skin through small breaks or cuts. Warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of the foot that can be quite painful. Over time, the wart develops into a hard, rough growth on the surface of the skin.

Technically only those on the bottom of the foot are properly called plantar warts.

Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults; some people seem to be immune.

Identification Problems

Warts are generally harmless, even though they may be painful. Many times they are mistaken for corns or calluses—which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is being continuously rubbed. The wart, however, is a viral infection. If left untreated, warts can spread to other parts of the body, like the hands.

It is also possible for a variety of more serious lesions to appear on the foot, including malignant lesions such as carcinomas and melanomas. Although rare, these conditions can sometimes be misidentified as a wart. It is smart to consult a podiatric physician when any suspicious growth or eruption is noticed on the skin of the foot in order to ensure a correct treatment and diagnosis.

Plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, may appear spongy, with tiny red, brown or black spots, with a rough surface and well-defined boundaries; warts are generally raised and fleshier when they appear on the top of the foot or on the toes. They can grow up to an inch or more across, occurring alone or withsmaller warts clustered nearby. It is important to note that warts can persist for years and recur in the same area.

Source of the Virus

The plantar wart is often acquired by walking barefoot on dirty surfaces. Avoid going barefoot in public places like showers, gyms, and locker rooms. Wear sandals on your feet. The causative virus thrives in warm, moist environments.

Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time, and, just as frequently, they can recur in the same location.

When plantar warts develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot—the ball of the foot, or the heel, for example—they can be the source of sharp, burning pain. Pain occurs when weight is brought to bear directly on the wart, although pressure on the side of a wart can create equally intense pain.

Tips for Prevention

• Avoid walking barefoot, except on beaches.

• Change shoes and socks daily.

• Keep feet clean and dry.

• Check children's feet periodically.

• Avoid direct contact with warts.

• Do not ignore growths or changes in your skin.

• Visit your podiatric physician.

Self Treatment

Self treatment is generally not a good idea. Over-the-counter preparations contain acids or chemicals that destroy skin cells, and it takes a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon to destroy abnormal skin cells (warts) without also destroying surrounding healthy tissue. Self treatment with such medicationsespecially should be avoided by people with diabetes and those with cardiovascular or circulatory disorders. Never use them in the presence of an active infection.

Professional Treatment

It is possible that your podiatric physician will prescribe and supervise your use of a wart-removal preparation. More likely, however, removal of warts by a simple surgical procedure, performed under local anesthetic, may be indicated.Lasers have become a common and effective treatment. A procedure known as CO2 laser cautery is performed under local anesthesia where the wart is vaporized using focused light energy in your podiatrist’s office surgical setting. The laser reduces post-treatment scarring and is a safe form for eliminating wart lesions.

Tips for Inpiduals with Warts

• Avoid over-the-counter preparations.

• Seek professional podiatric evaluation.

• Diabetics should be especially careful.

• Warts may spread and are catching.

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