Plantar Warts

1 What are Plantar Warts?

A hard and grainy growth that mostly appears on the balls or heels of your feet is called plantar warts. Sometimes it can be on areas of your feet where you feel the most pressure and this may grow inward in a hard and thick layer of skin which is callus.

This is caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) that can enter your body through cuts in or wounds in your feet.

Plantar warts do not need treatment but can cause you pain or discomfort. You can remove this if self-care treatments do not work.

2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of plantar warts are:

  • a lesion on the bottom of your feet,
  • black pinpoints or wart seeds that are clotted blood vessels,
  • tenderness or pain when standing or walking,
  • a callus because the wart has grown inwards,
  • a lesion that interrupts the ridges in the skin of your feet.

Consult your doctor if the lesions on your feet are:

  • change in appearance or color,
  • painful,
  • it recurs or multiples,
  • you are not sure if it is a wart,
  • you have diabetes or poor sensation in your feet,
  • weakened immune system,
  • it interrupts with your activities.

3 Causes

An infection with human papillomavirus (HPH) in the outer layer on the soles of your feet is the cause of plantar warts.

Only a few HPV causes warts on your feet but there are more than 100 types of HPH that exists. Some of the HPV can be seen in your mucous membrane or other parts of your skin. Not everyone develop warts and the HPV are not contagious, meaning they cannot be transmitted by person to person contact. It thrives in moist and warm environments and you may get this if you walk barefoot on swimming pool sides or locker rooms.

The points of entry of the virus are:

  • cuts or scrapes,
  • fragile,
  • wet and softened skin,
  • cracks in dry skin.

4 Making a Diagnosis

In most cases, your doctor can diagnose a plantar wart using several techniques.

Set an appointment with your doctor and he may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in skin disorders or podiatrist who specializes in feet disorders.

Write down the list of your medication and supplements that you are taking.

Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include:

  • Do I have a wart?
  • Can I start with at-home care?
  • If this is not plantar warts, what tests do I need to do in order to find out?
  • How long will the results be back?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • If it does not work, what is our next step?
  • How can I prevent warts?

Your doctor will also ask you questions such as:

  • When did the lesion appear?
  • Has it changed since your visit? Is it painful?
  • Have you had this before?
  • Do you have a poor sensation of feet or diabetes?
  • Do you have any condition that weakened your immune system to fight disease?
  • Have you tried home remedies?
  • How long and did it help?  Are you often in public places such as pool?

While waiting for your appointment with your doctor, you may try over the counter remedies but before taking any ask your doctor first especially if you have:

  • poor sensation in your feet,
  • diabetes or weakened immunity.

You can also try wearing well-cushioned shoes like athletic shoes so that the sole can relieve some of the pressure. Your doctor will examine the lesion, check your lesions for dark and pinpoint dots (tiny clotted blood vessels), and shave biopsy for analysis.

5 Treatment

Plantar warts may go away without any treatment but if they are severe you can take home remedies or over the counter medications.

You can try some of these treatments such as:

  • Salicylic acid – to remove layers of warts and can stimulate your immune system to fight the warts. Your doctor may also suggest freezing treatment.
  • Cryotheraphy – freezing therapy that is done by applying liquid nitrogen but your doctor may numb the affected area first. This treatment is very effective when combined with salicylic acid.
  • Bichloracetic acid or trichloroacetic – this will be applied on the affected area that have a stinging and burning effect.
  • Immune therapy – by injecting antigen to stimulate your immune system to fight the viral warts.
  • Minor surgery – by destroying or cutting the warts with an electric needle (electrodesiccation and curettage).
  • Laser treatment – to burn closed (cauterizers) tiny blood vessels by using pulsed-dye laser; Vaccine – HPV vaccine to treat warts.

6 Prevention

To prevent plantar warts:

  • avoid direct contact with warts even your own warts,
  • wear comfortable shoes and always wear shoes where the virus is common such as in public swimming pools,
  • keep your feet clean and dry; do not pick on your warts,
  • change your socks and shoes daily,
  • wash your hands after touching your warts,
  • use a disposable emery board,
  • do not share your emery board or nail clipper so the virus will not spread.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some of the alternative remedies for plantar warts that seem to work for some people but not better than salicylic acid and cryotheraphy include:

  • Smoke: smoke box from burnt leaves of a tree called Populus euphratica,
  • Silver Nitrate: you can apply this in your wart, can be ointment or solution,
  • Zinc: available as a pill or ointment and effective for people with zinc deficiency.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Plantar warts may be uncomfortable and difficult to cope with. Speak with your doctor to seek the best course of treatment.

A lot of people have remove plantar warts by:

  • peeling medicine or salicylic acid – can be a liquid or patch and this is done by washing the affected area then soak it for up to 20 minutes. Remove the dead tissue with an emery board or pumice stone and apply the patch or solution. Change the patch after 48 hours and in liquid you can use it for twice a day;
  • freezing medicine or cryotheraphy – this is done by freezing the wart with a Compound W Freeze Off or Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away but some of the wart removers are flammable according to the Food and Drug Administration;
  • duct tape – to cover the wart with silver duct tape for up to six days then soak it in water and remove the dead tissue, and then leave it exposed for up to 12 hours. You can repeat this until it is gone.

9 Risks and Complications

The risk of having a plantar warts include:

  • children and teenagers; people who had plantar warts before;
  • people who walk barefoot where exposure to a wart-causing virus is common;
  • people with weakened immune system.

You may alter your normal posture or gait if your plantar warts is painful and this would change on how you walk, stand or run and can cause discomfort in your muscle or joint.

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