Most warts are harmless and benign, even though painful. They are often mistaken for corns, which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is being continuously irritated.
Although they are not overly common, it is also possible that a variety of other more serious lesions, including carcinomas and melanomas, can be mistakenly identified as warts. Because of those identification problems, it is wise to consult a podiatrist about any suspicious growth or eruption on your feet.
On the bottom of the feet, plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, rough-surfaced, with well-defined boundaries. They are generally fleshier when they are on the top of the feet or the toes. They are often gray or brown with a center that appears as one or more pinpoints of black.
Source of the Virus
The plantar wart is often contracted by walking barefooted on dirty surfaces or littered ground where the virus is lurking. The virus is sustained by warm, moist environments. If left untreated, warts can grow to an inch or more in diameter, and they can spread into clusters of several warts.
Warts can last for varying lengths of time, which may average about 18 months. Occasionally, they spontaneously disappear after a short time. Perhaps just as frequently they can recur in the same location.
Tips for Prevention
- Avoid walking barefooted, except on sandy beaches
- Always wear a jandal in public bathing facilities. Wear right up to the pool edge.
- Change shoes daily
- Keep feet clean and dry
- Check children’s feet periodically
- Avoid direct contact with warts — from other people and from other parts of the body
Do not ignore skin growths or changes in your skin
Self treatment is generally not advisable. Over-the-counter preparations contain chemicals, such as a acid, that destroy skin cells. It takes an expert to destroy abnormal wart cells without also destroying surrounding healthy tissue. Self treatment with such medications especially should be avoided by diabetics and those with circulation problems which cause insensitive feet. Never use them in the presence of an active infection.
Typically the age of the patient and the severity of infection will determine the type of treatment we use on our patients.
When warts are very few, the area is numbed with local anesthetic and a procedure called blunt dissection is used. There is very little pain after the treatment, and normal activities can usually begin within one day, though you will need to put your foot up that night! The advantage of this procedure is that it normally requires only one treatment.
For younger patients, those wary of injections or if there are multiple infections we usually recommend a topical chemical treatment. Treatments like this may multiple follow up treatment, usually taking around 15 minutes.
As always, if you want to ask one of our podiatrists a question, feel free to phone us and we’ll try and help.