How do plantar warts form?
Verruca Plantaris is the technical name for plantar warts. What are they? Warts are small benign (non-cancerous) growths on the skin. They typically occur when the skin is infected by a virus. In this case, plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus also causes warts in other parts of the body. There are more than 100 types of HPV, but only a few can cause plantar warts. The virus enters through a break in the skin, typically in the form of a cut, but also through cracks in dry skin and softened fragile skin from being in the water for a long time. After the virus enters the skin, it forms a rough bump on the surface of the skin.
This particular type of wart typically appears on the sole, or the plantar side, of the foot — hence the name, plantar warts. They grow in the area where most pressure is applied, such as the balls or heels of the foot. In some cases, this same pressure causes the wart to grow inward beneath a callus, which is a hard, thick layer of skin. As such, plantar warts can either be flat or smooth or a rough-surfaced bump.
Plantar warts commonly occur in children, due to the frequent scrapes and cuts they get while playing. People with weakened immune systems are also more prone to warts. These include the elderly and people taking medications to suppress the immune system.
There are two types of plantar warts: solitary and mosaic. A solitary wart is a lone wart that usually increases in size. It may also eventually multiply to form additional satellite warts. On the other hand, mosaic warts are made up of a cluster of small warts that grow close together in an area.
Here are the symptoms of plantar warts:
- Lesion. This is a small, fleshy, grainy and rough growth that interrupts the normal ridges and lines in the skin.
- Pain. Because of the location where plantar warts grow, it can cause pain when walking, or even standing. Squeezing the sides of the wart may also cause some pain. This is the easiest way to tell calluses and warts apart. When squeezed, warts cause pain while calluses do not.
- Thickened skin. A plantar wart also develops thickening of the skin, resembling a callus a lot. Due to their location, having plantar warts can make it feel like you are walking with a stone inside your shoe.
- Wart seeds. These are tiny black spots which are actually dried blood in tiny blood vessels called capillaries. They usually appear on the surface of the wart. This happens when plantar warts grow deep into the skin, starting as a small wart and growing larger over time.
Most plantar warts are not serious health risks. They usually go away on their own as the immune system fights off the virus that caused them in the first place. If your warts become irritated or painful, or a cause for embarrassment, you may want to get it treated. You may use over-the-counter gels, patches, or liquids containing salicylic acid. This type of treatment should be done daily and can last for a few months.
However, it should be noted that while warts are benign growths, the human papillomavirus (HPV) also causes cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, mouth and throat. These can be prevented through the use of condoms and vaccines.
How are plantar warts different from other warts?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) has over a hundred different strains. Only a couple of these will cause plantar warts.
To help you compare, here are other types of warts:
- Common warts. These usually appear alone or in a group on the hands. They are rough to the touch, dome-shaped, and gray-brown in color.
- Flat warts. These typically appear in a group and are small in size. They often grow on the face, arms or legs. They have flat tops and might be pink, light yellow, or light brown in color.
- Periungual warts. These are found under and around the toenails and fingernails, and appear as rough, irregular bumps.
In a sense, plantar warts are similar to other warts in that they are caused by the same virus, only of a different type.
A main point of difference between plantar warts and others is that plantar warts are painful. This is because they occur in an area where pressure is constantly applied. Aside from the bottom of the foot, you can also get plantar wart on fingers, which can also be painful. Other warts can almost be overlooked because they do not cause discomfort or pain. These could be found on the hands, elbows and knees.
Compared to other types, plantar warts are also generally more difficult to treat. This is due to the thicker skin found on the soles of the feet. This makes the infection harder to reach and cure.
Are plantar warts contagious?
Yes, warts are highly contagious. They can spread easily from one person to another, or from one body part to another. This happens through direct contact with a wart, or with something that has been in contact with a wart. Common examples are locker room floors and towels. You can also transfer warts from one body part to another through nail biting or shaving.
If you have a wart, prevent your friends and family from contracting it or prevent it from spreading by following these precautions.
- Do not scratch or pick at the wart.
- Do not ask someone else to touch or come in contact with the wart.
- Do not shave, brush or comb over the wart.
- Keep your clothes, towels, and bath mat separate. Use a different towel to dry the affected area so that the infection does not spread to other areas of your body.
- Keep the affected and surrounding area dry. Warts are more difficult to treat and harder to control in moist environments.
- After applying treatment, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the virus from spreading.
It is also important to know that not everyone will react to HPV the same way. Some may be more susceptible to it, and some may not develop warts at all.
Can you prevent plantar warts?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) thrives in warm, moist environments. In order to prevent plantar warts, take care and always wear flip flops or sandals when you use public locker rooms or showers and when you are in a public pool.
While HPV is common enough, not everybody is affected by warts. This is because the body’s immune system is generally sufficiently strong enough to fight off the virus before it takes hold of the system and develops into any symptom. So, if you have plantar warts or have been experiencing warts time and time again, your immune system may be on the weaker side. You can prevent this, or stop the cycle, by boosting your immune system.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, and more.
- You can also take multivitamins to help fill the gaps from your diet.
- Be conscious about having a well-balanced diet. Make sure that you are eating enough fruits and vegetables with your meals.
- Drink plenty of water to help your body regulate and transport nutrients throughout your system.
Plantar wart removal
Knowing how to get rid of plantar warts is quite simple. Try home remedies using ingredients you may already have lying around.
- If you have a green thumb and you have an aloe vera plant in your home, you’re in luck. Harvest pure aloe vera gel from your plant and apply it to the wart.
- Grab your apple cider vinegar from the pantry. Pour some in a dish or bowl. Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and apply it on the wart. You can keep this on your skin by using duct tape or plasters.
- Tape occlusion seems fancy and complex, but it is quite easy. Just get some duct tape and cut enough to cover just the wart. Leave it on your skin for six days then remove it. Using an emery board or pumice stone, sand the wart and leave it uncovered for 24 hours. Afterwards, reapply the duct tape and repeat the process until the wart disappears completely.
You may use over-the-counter medication containing salicylic acid. This type of medication is usually available in various forms, including gels, patches, or liquids. The medication should be applied daily. In the morning and before bedtime might be convenient. The treatment could continue up to a few months before the wart completely disappears.
To make the medicine more effective, soak the affected area in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, use a disposable emery board to file the wart down. Don’t forget to discard the used section of the emery board to prevent spreading the virus. Apply the medicine and cover with duct tape.
If you are seeking quicker results, consult with your doctor. He may suggest other treatments like oral treatment, cryotherapy, acid treatment, laser surgery or minor surgery.
Cryotherapy involves freezing off the wart by using liquid nitrogen. This causes a blister to form, and when this peels off, a part of or all of the wart peels off with it. However, because this causes a blister, it can be painful and is not a recommended treatment for children. Because it can be effective on just a part of the wart, this treatment may still require several sessions. Your doctor may also recommend an application of salicylic acid treatment after the blister heals.
Seeking professional medical advice is also necessary if you meet one or more of the following conditions:
- The wart persists despite your efforts of treating it with home remedies or over-the-counter medication.
- You are not sure whether the growth is a wart.
- You have a weakened immune system, due to intake of immunosuppressants, HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other immune system disorders.
- You have diabetes or poor sensation in your feet.
- The wart causes so much discomfort that it interferes with your daily activities.
- The wart is painful or has changed in appearance or color.
You can also take multivitamins to help fill the gaps from your diet.
Be conscious about having a well-balanced diet. Make sure that you are eating enough fruits and vegetables with your meals.
Drink plenty of water to help your body regulate and transport nutrients throughout your system.