What Is A Plantar Wart?
A plantar wart is a small, rough growth of skin found under the foot, usually in weight-bearing areas such as your heels.
Fortunately, they aren’t usually a major health concern, but proper plantar wart treatment is important to avoid spreading them to others and the potential pain and discomfort they may cause.
What Are The Causes?
Plantar warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is highly contagious and can be spread through both direct, and indirect contact.
You can catch it directly through skin contact, as well as from sharing floors, showers, socks, and shoes with an infected person.
This is why HPV can spread through families very quickly.
Your immune system and HPV strains play a large role in whether you will develop warts or not once infected.
About 8 in 10 people have this common virus, but only those with a weakened immune system will show symptoms of it.
Children and teenagers are very susceptible since their immune systems are still maturing.
Those who walk barefoot in communal areas (such as public showers and pools) are at higher risk for viral infection – especially with a cut or break in the skin under their feet.
What Are The Symptoms?
A plantar wart can come in any shape or size and develop anywhere at the bottom of your foot.
You may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- A rough, grainy area growing on the skin surface under your foot (often on your heel or the ball of your foot).
- A solid border around the lump of thickened skin.
- Small black spots in the wart tissue. (This is dried blood.)
- Your normal skin lines run around the lesion, and not through it.
- A layer of discoloured (yellowish) skin covers the wart tissue.
- Pain when putting pressure on the area.
- Discomfort when walking (if it’s on a weight-bearing part of your foot).
- Bleeding after removal of the top layer of skin, or callus.
- Multiple lesions in the same area, also known as mosaic warts.
How To Diagnose
You can do the squeeze test to help you diagnose plantar warts if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.
This will also be useful in identifying whether you have a wart or a corn. These are easy to confuse since they often look similar.
Place a finger on each side of the growth and squeeze – if it feels painful then it’s highly likely to be a plantar wart.
If you are still unsure, it’s best to consult your podiatrist, as warts and corns require completely different types of treatments.
How To Treat
Most plantar warts can go away on their own, but it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort it is best to begin wart treatment as soon as possible.
It is advised that you work with a qualified podiatrist to help with the most effective treatment plan.
Types of wart treatments:
- Swift Therapy
This uses advanced microwave technology to resolve warts. It’s currently the most effective method to treat warts.
- Silver Nitrate
This is a gentle chemical application to create mild tissue trauma and stimulate the body’s immune system to target warts.
- Salicylic Acid
This works similarly to silver nitrate as it also aims to create scar tissue to activate the immune system.
Treating plantar warts with salicylic acid and silver nitrate may require several sessions as well as over the counter treatment that you would apply yourself.
This is a method of freezing warts using liquid nitrogen and is often used in combination with other treatments.
- Surgical Procedure
This method is not recommended for plantar wart removal, as it can cause painful scarring.
Home treatments for warts don’t have much evidence of their effectiveness, but some people have had success using duct tape with apple cider vinegar to suffocate their warts.
Be careful with these kinds of treatments, as there is the risk of damaging healthy skin and causing skin infections.
How To Prevent
Follow these tips to prevent plantar warts:
- Try to avoid walking barefoot in communal showers and changing rooms.
- Clean your shoes and socks daily.
- Keep your feet dry and clean.
- Avoid coming into contact with others who have warts on their body.
- Seek medical treatment if you notice any unusual skin growth under your foot.
1- Are plantar warts contagious?
Yes, they are spread through direct and in-direct contact with someone who is positive for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
2- Can you leave plantar warts untreated?
Without treatment, plantar warts can grow and spread quickly to other parts of the body. Leaving them to grow can also cause pain and discomfort.
3- Can plantar warts be removed by surgery?
Yes, they can be surgically removed, but this isn’t the most efficient removal method.