Plantar warts are one of those pesky conditions most of us have had exposure to at some stage in life.
“Almost everyone will have a wart (or several) someplace at some time in their lives as they are very common.”
Have you ever wondered why you can throw everything at your plantar wart but you just can’t get rid of it.
Well the answer to this is hidden in one of the most common misconceptions about warts.
For the purpose of this article we will be specifically focusing on plantar warts that are named specifically for where they appear on the body. In the case of plantar warts these are found under the foot. They are common especially in children and in particular children who swim. Why, you may ask? All will be revealed shortly but first of all lets explore exactly what is a plantar wart.
Plantar warts are noncancerous skin growth, caused by a viral infection in top layer of the skin. The culprit is a strain of virus called human papillomavirus or HPV. Many strains of the virus exist, over 60 in fact and those that cause common warts on the hands and feet are not the same strains.
Some people mistakenly think plantar warts are malignant. In fact, they are not harmful. Warts can, however, cause irritation or minor pain, depending on their location.
What Do Plantar Warts Look Like?
On average plantar warts are small, about the size of a pencil eraser. But some warts grow bigger. Sometimes plantar warts can grow in clusters; those are called mosaic warts.
Sometimes corns or callouses are mistaken for plantar warts. In some warts, little black dots appear, leading people to call them “seed” warts. Actually the black dots are little blood vessels that have grown up into the wart. Warts don’t really have “seeds.”
Plantar warts usually don’t stick up above the skin as much as warts on the hand, partly because of the pressure of walking and its flattening effect.
How Do You Get a Plantar Wart?
This is where a lot of the misconceptions come in. Warts are spread from person to person. The transmission can be indirect. For instance, a child with a wart on his hand may touch a playground surface that is then touched by another child and the wart spreads. Or a person with a plantar wart uses a shower without wearing shower shoes and another person then uses it and develops a wart. The risk of getting a hand or foot wart from another person is small and usually requires both the person with the wart virus and the person receiving the wart virus to have an open portal to the skin. For example the person with the wart needs to have damaged the surface of the wart either by bumping it picking it or through treatment and the person receiving the wart virus may also have a cut or abrasion skin. This is where the swimming comes in. Because the longer we spend time in the water the more porous our skin becomes this becomes a prime environment for this type of transmission as both sets of feet walk on the same wet ground.
A person’s risk of getting a wart varies. Those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible. But those with healthy immune systems can also develop warts.
This is where our second misconception comes in. Immunity is crucial in the treating a plantar wart because it is a virus and not just a sore on the skin like a splinter or a callous or a corn. One of the key ways to fight the condition is to fight the virus.
So boosting your immune system is critical. This can be done through a healthy diet plenty of rest and generally looking after your self. However with our little people because there body is so busy growing it also struggles to fight this virus so we have listed below some additional strategies that can be used to eradicate these pesky intruders.
What Are the Treatments for Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts will often eventually go away without treatment. If they bother you, however, you can treat common skin warts in a variety of ways.
- Duct tape is one home remedy. Put a small strip over the wart and leave it on for six days. Then, remove the tape, soak the wart in water, and then gently debride it with a pumice stone or emory board. Repeat the process many times until the wart is gone. This may take a couple of months. Don’t expect miracles with this type of treatment as in most cases it does not work any better then a placebo treatment.
- Over-the-counter wart treatments include a medication that is applied topically (gel, ointment, lotion) and usually includes salicylic acid which works by peeling the wart away. Another option is a freezing spray that kills the tissue. These remedies work about 50% of the time.
- Podiatrist’s treatments are generally most effective. They include freezing the wart off with liquid nitrogen, silver Nitrate, and a stronger salicylic acid or removing the wart with multi-puncture technique surgery.
If you or family members are struggling with plantar warts we recommend you come and make an appointment to have them assessed by our podiatrist for further information.