Kissing a warty-skinned toad may turn out well in a fairy tale, but having warts in real life can be very unpleasant. Removing warts yourself is no easy task. Some people try treating their warts with over-the-counter remedies -- and usually without success.
Most over-the-counter preparations contain strong chemicals or acids which can damage the healthy skin that surrounds the wart you’re trying to remove. So self-treatment can also result in a new problem such as a wound, blister, or infection from the chemical staying on the skin for too long. And you’re at a higher risk of developing complications from self-treatment if you have diabetes or peripheral artery disease.
If you think you have a wart or cluster of warts, call us at Central Massachusetts Podiatry. We’ll give you an accurate medical diagnosis, and provide you with effective treatment to wipe out your warts once and for all.
What is a wart?
A wart is a small, benign growth on the top of the skin, commonly found on the hands, though they can be anywhere. There are different types of warts, but the ones that grow on the bottom of the feet are called plantar warts. They usually grow on the heel and ball portions of the foot, but can grow anywhere on the sole of the foot. Plantar warts can be painful, especially when you walk, stand, run, or jump on these weight-bearing pressure points areas of the foot that also support our bodies when we move.
Plantar warts cause the skin to look thicker, feel rougher, and many times have black dots scattered throughout the surface of the wart. These black dots are small blood vessels. If there is only one plantar wart, it’s called a solitary plantar wart. If there are several plantar warts growing together in a group over a larger area, it’s then referred to as mosaic warts.
What causes warts?
Warts are caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are about 100 different strains of this virus, but only a few strains of this virus causes wart infections to the feet. You can pick up the virus if you’re walking barefoot or have a small cut or break in your skin, and then come in contact with HPV. Any opening in your skin provides a path for the virus to enter the skin and tissue of your foot and results in causing warts to form.
Wart viruses thrive in moist, warm environments and on hard surfaces. So, the floors of a shower, a steam room, decks surrounding swimming pools, and bath and shower mats are the perfect home for HPV to live. If you walk barefoot in these areas and have a break in your skin, you’re at risk for catching warts. Warts can also spread from person to person, and from one body part to another.
What are the treatments for warts?
At Central Massachusetts Podiatry, we offer a variety of evidence-based treatments for the removal of warts. These involve topical applications of medications, laser treatments, and surgical procedures. The course of care involves coming to our office a few times for treatments along with follow-up evaluations after each treatment.
There are different phases of treatment for warts. We typically begin with topical based approaches such as freezing (also known as cryotherapy) or acid treatments. There are different topical medications we use, depending on what we determine is most appropriate for your situation, including salinocain, carac, and aldara.
Another option is laser treatment or surgical removal of your warts. Laser treatments are usually very effective but can be a bit more painful than topical treatments. Surgical removal is another option for removing stubborn wart infections.
How to protect the bottoms of your feet from getting plantar warts:
Make sure to wear shower shoes, flip flops, or sandals when walking in public areas. This is especially important when you’re at the beach, at public swimming pools, in public showers, or at the gym in the steam room. This will protect the skin on the bottom of your feet from coming in contact with wart viruses. You’ll also want to keep your feet, socks, and shoes clean.