Plantar Warts

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Plantar warts are most commonly found on the bottom of your feet. They usually begin as a small black spot and as they grow and multiple, can take on the appearance of cauliflower but may still have one or more black spots in the middle. They may be mistaken for calluses or corns but are generally flat.

     

    Cause of Plantar Warts


    Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Although there are many different strains of this virus, there are only a few that cause this type of warts. These strains thrive in warm, moist environments, such as shower floors, locker rooms and public swimming areas. However, it is not extremely contagious and enters the body through cuts or cracks in the skin on the bottom of your foot. If your skin is softened and wet from extended time in water, the virus may be able to enter the skin.

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    Because each person reacts to viruses differently, not everyone who is exposed to the virus will develop plantar warts. Additional risk factors include:

    • Suppressed immune systems, such as those with AIDS, Lymphoma or taking drugs that suppress the immune system
    • Atopic dermatitis

    Children and teens are more susceptible to plantar warts than adults.

     

    Symptoms


    While plantar warts are generally harmless, they can be painful. The wart usually grows inward rather than having a raised surface and walking can push on the wart, causing pain. It can often feel as if you are walking with a stone in your shoe.

     

    You may notice an area or areas on the bottom of your foot that looks grainy, rough or crusty with well defined borders. There are normally one or more small black spots on the lesion, which are clotted blood vessels. Many times the lesions are mistaken for calluses, however, calluses are smooth and clear.

    You may feel some tenderness around the area, especially when walking or standing.

     

    Treatment


    Plantar warts will sometimes go away on their own, but this may take months or years and if they are causing you pain, you will need to treat the wart. There are over-the-counter treatments for warts which may work, however, plantar warts can be resistant to treatment so you may need to have patience when working with this type of treatment – warts.org indicates it could take about 4 weeks for the wart to disappear.

     

    Plantar warts can be difficult to treat. If the plantar warts continue to multiple, move to other areas of your foot or are interfering with your ability to walk around, you should see your doctor.  There are a number of medical treatments your doctor may use:

    • Cryotherapy – freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, causing the wart to fall off in about a week.
    • Cantharidin – a substance applied to the wart, causing a blister to form. About a week later, your doctor will then cut off the dead part of the wart.
    • Immunotherapy – used to boost your immune system (medication is injected directly into the wart) to help fight the virus. There is also a cream which works to help your body create immune proteins to fight HPV.
    • Surgery – minor surgery to cut out the wart.
    • Laser treatment – lasers are used to close off blood vessels around the wart. The wart will eventually fall off.

    To help prevent plantar warts, make sure you always wear plastic sandals when in public showers, bathrooms or pool areas, avoid walking barefoot on these surfaces. Keeping your feet clean and dry and changing socks daily can also help.

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    References:

     

    “Plantar Warts,” 2012, Staff Writer, Keck School of Medicine USC

     

    “Plantar Warts,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, American Orthopaedic Food and Ankle Society

     

    “Plantar Warts,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Warts.org

     

Published On: December 05, 2012