What are Plantar Warts and How are They Treated?

Toads, frogs, and cackling, grotesque witches in fairy tales – this is usually what comes to mind when we think of warts. Although they are usually a minor inconvenience, warts can be embarrassing – and sometimes painful. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you have a plantar wart, and you certainly don’t have to live with it, thanks to the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center!

What are Plantar Warts?

Classified as a soft tissue condition of the foot, plantar warts are hard, textured growths that typically appear on the soles, heels, or balls of the feet. While they grow outward from the skin most of the time, they can occasionally grow inward beneath a callus. Sometimes, many plantar warts will spread and form a group called mosaic warts. They are generally benign but can often become uncomfortable or painful. Children – especially teenagers – tend to be more susceptible to developing plantar warts than adults.

What Causes Them?

Contrary to popular belief, warts don’t come from handling toads or frogs. They are caused by a virus, specifically the human papillomavirus (HPV). When the virus enters the body through tiny cuts, abrasions, or sores on the bottom of your feet, it often can cause plantar warts to appear. The virus is contagious and can be contracted when you come into contact with an infected source, particularly when walking barefoot on dirty surfaces or warm, moist environments such as communal bathing facilities.

How Can I Identify Plantar Warts?

It’s actually quite easy to confuse plantar warts with other podiatric conditions such as corns and calluses! While corns and calluses will develop when your feet accrue dead layers of skin, plantar warts are the result of a viral infection and have a rough surface with a well-defined boundary. You may even notice a pinprick of black in the center of the wart, which is just a dried-up blood vessel.

How Are Plantar Warts Treated?

Treating plantar warts can be a bit tricky if you’re trying to do it on your own. Worse yet, they can be very resistant to treatment and tend to come back. We advise talking to your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to tackle your plantar wart. Treatments typically include using topical medications, salicylic acid, or liquid nitrogen to dissolve the stubborn wart, cryotherapy (freezing the wart), or a simple surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia. Left untreated, the warts can grow and spread into mosaic warts.

When Should I See my Podiatrist?

It’s always wise to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist if you notice any changes in your feet, especially if you have diabetes. As we previously mentioned, plantar warts can easily be confused with corns and calluses, but your podiatrist can give you a correct diagnosis and come up with the right treatment plan!

How Can I Prevent Getting Plantar Warts?

Prevention is usually as simple as maintaining proper podiatric hygiene! Here’s how you can help increase your odds:

  • Avoid walking barefoot, especially in moist communal areas like gym showers.
  • Change your shoes and socks daily and when wet.
  • Check your feet periodically.
  • Avoid direct contact with warts from those who have them.
  • Visit your podiatrist annually as part of a well-rounded health checkup.

Warts can be embarrassing and inconvenient, but they don’t have to be. Boost your confidence and live without pain and discomfort by scheduling your appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment online!