Warts, specifically plantar warts, are non-cancerous growths on the skin caused by an HPV infection. These are extremely contagious and can be transmitted through a simple touch or by sharing objects touched by a wart.
Although they can grow anywhere on our bodies, plantar warts mostly grow on the bottom of our feet. HPV thrives and stays in places that are moist and humid. For example, HPV is commonly found in public pools and tile ground since people walk around barefoot, catching and transmitting the infection.
Causes of Warts
There aren’t many causes. Plantar warts are mainly caused by the spread of HPV. This is transmitted through touch, particularly by feet. Not all people who are infected by the HPV infection develop warts, though. The most common ways to develop plantar warts are by walking on an HPV-infected, wet surface with a:
- Cut or break in the skin
- Weak spot on your foot
- Cracked heel
- Blister on toes
Symptoms of Warts
Warts are nearly symptomless. They are non-cancerous and not dangerous. The main symptom is a visual one. The wart grows in size over time and can become large. It is also possible to have multiple plantar warts on your foot at once.
The main symptoms of plantar warts are:
- A small, flesh-colored, rough bump on the bottom of your foot
- Pain or soreness while walking or standing
- The development of calluses on a wart
Plantar warts are uncomfortable, but nothing to be terrified about. However, if they worsen in condition, you should talk to a medical professional as soon as possible. Warts should not be:
- Profusely bleeding
- Changing colors
- Limiting your ability to walk
Diagnosis of Warts
While most warts are not painful and go away by themselves, they can also persist. There is no medical threat to keeping warts, as they are non-cancerous, but they can be painful if underneath your foot.
Warts can be diagnosed through a biopsy or a simple check with the help of a scalpel. During a biopsy, the doctor may take a small piece of your wart to send to the lab for testing. This is an important step as it could rule out serious conditions like cancer. Simple checkups require the doctor to cut open the wart and look for damage or blood.
How to Treat Warts
Doctors can treat warts in many ways. Usually, plantar warts go away on their own with time. If they don’t, additional treatment is necessary.
Salicylic Acid Treatment: Warts that do not go away within one to two years can benefit from salicylic acid treatments. Doctors need to prescribe this medication and it is used as a lotion. It targets the wart by decreasing the size over time until it is completely gone.
Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a relatively new procedure. During this treatment, liquid nitrogen is applied. The wart then blisters and peels away. Though, this treatment needs to be completed more than once to be successful.
How to Prevent Warts
It is better to try and prevent, instead of treating them. Plantar warts occur on the bottom of your feet, usually in between the toes or on the heel. The best ways to protect yourself from them are:
- Wearing shoes in public spaces, especially showers, gyms, and pools
- Getting the HPV vaccine
- Consistently changing shoes and wearing socks with shoes
- Not reusing dirty socks
- Keeping your feet dry
- How long does it take for plantar warts to go away on their own? Plantar warts can begin fading after a few months and should not stay longer than two years.
- Are there people more at risk for plantar warts? If you have an immune system disease, you are more likely to develop plantar warts because your body cannot fight against the virus. Also, children are more likely to get warts during childhood as they have not been exposed to the HPV infection yet.
- What at-home remedies can I use? There are over-the-counter wart creams that can help get rid of plantar warts, but always ask your doctor before using them.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!