Understanding Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are abnormal growths seen on the bottoms of feet when they develop. Also known as verrucae warts, plantar warts are so common it’s estimated that nearly everyone will have at least one at some point. Caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), plantar warts can contribute to hard, thick layers of skin. While self-care is often effective, some of these warts respond better to professional care.
Symptoms and Transmission
Plantar warts first appear as small, rough growths on the bottom of a foot, often around the heel or by the base of toes. If a foot wart becomes ingrown, a callus may form. Additional signs and symptoms associated with verrucae warts include:
- “Wart seeds,” or black pinpoints caused by clotted blood vessels
- Pain and/or tenderness that makes walking or standing difficult
- A growth that clearly disrupts natural foot lines
When to Visit a Doctor
Some plantar warts go away with little or no care. However, it’s best to see a doctor if you have growths of this nature that are bleeding, painful, or not healing well. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor or specialist if you have diabetes or a similar condition that affects circulation and presents certain risks that need to be considered. Additionally, you’ll want to see a doctor if plantar warts are affecting your ability to get around because of discomfort when pressure is placed on your foot.
Treatment Options for Plantar Warts
Wart medications with peeling medicine (salicylic acid) may be prescribed to facilitate the process of removing plantar warts. Other acids may be used as well. With more stubborn warts, freezing medicine (cryotherapy) may be the more effective removal method. This is usually done in a doctor’s office since the use of liquid nitrogen could be an uncomfortable removal method if the affected area isn’t numbed first. Other treatment options that may be used for plantar warts include:
- Immune therapy to minimize recurrence
- Laser-based treatments
- Minimally invasive surgery to cut off the wart or remove it with an electric needle
Keeping your feet clean and dry is one way you can reduce your risk of having issues with plantar warts. If you have existing verrucae warts that are healing, avoid direct contact with them so they don’t spread or develop nearby. Also, when you use a public shower or one that’s used by other people in your household, wear shower thongs or shoes to minimize your risk of developing plantar warts.