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Plantar Warts

A wart that grows on your foot is called a “plantar wart”. If you suspect you have a plantar wart, your doctor can help determine the best option for treatment.

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Preventing Plantar Warts

Since plantar warts are spread by a virus, you can try to avoid contracting them in the same ways you would any other virus. Washing your hands is always the best way to avoid any illness. For plantar warts, keep your feet clean and dry, and if you need to shower or get dressed in a shared area, consider covering your feet. Change your socks every day, and use only clean nail clippers when clipping your toenails.

Causes of Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are many strains of HPV, and the type that causes plantar warts is not the type that causes genital warts or other illnesses. HPV enters the body though a break in the skin. On your feet, this break could come from an injury, dry skin, or even clipping your toenails too short and cutting your skin a bit. 

As with other viruses, the HPV strain that causes plantar warts is spread by contact. Since viruses can live on surfaces for days, they are easily spreadable. Children may pick them up on playgrounds, and older teens and adults can pick them up in locker rooms and other public areas. 

The same virus that causes a plantar wart in one person may not cause a plantar wart in another person. For example, you and your sister may touch the same surface and you can contract the virus and she won’t. It is nearly impossible to predict whether or not you are susceptible to HPV unless you have already had a plantar wart.

Recognizing a Plantar Wart

Because most people don’t regularly inspect their feet without reason, most plantar warts aren’t found until they’re actually causing a problem. Unlike warts that may grow on other parts of your body, plantar warts grow into your skin. This is why it feels like a small pebble is jabbing into your foot.  A plantar wart may even be covered by a callus, making it harder to diagnose. You may see black pinpoints in the center of the wart. Although these are commonly called “wart seeds”, they are not actually any type of seed. They are actually tiny, clotted blood vessels. 

Where do Plantar Warts Develop?

Plantar warts are most often found on the weight-bearing parts of your foot — so on the heel and the base of your toes. If you follow the lines on your foot and see an interruption in this pattern, it may be a plantar wart. If you cannot determine what you are seeing, consult a doctor. Some plantar warts can be treated at home, but you want to be sure that it’s a plantar wart first.

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Treating a Plantar Wart

Unless the wart is interfering with your daily life, you may choose not to treat it. Without any treatment at all, a wart will last about two years before falling off on its own. 

Although people who have warts that are visible often want to treat them, plantar warts are not visible. However, they may cause pain. If this is the case, there are a few different treatments you can try. 

If you have attempted to treat your wart yourself and have not been successful, you may want to see a doctor for treatment. There are a number of treatments available, from cryotherapy to prescription-strength acids to laser surgery. The size of the wart and where it’s located will help guide your doctor to the correct treatment. 

The Swift Wart Therapy System is another effective and non-invasive option for treating warts. Patients experience minimal pain with this service, and are able to continue normal daily activities after treatment.

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Wart Treatment at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group

If you’re seeking treatment for plantar warts or any other type of warts on your feet, our team at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group can help. Dr. Salma Aziz is an American Board of Podiatric Surgery Fellowship member, and has been a staple in the Rancho Santa Margarita and Newport Beach community since 2001. Our modern, family-friendly podiatry practice is rounded out with Dr. Petrina Yokay and Dr. Jessica Arneson, who are also foot and ankle surgeons. We are a nurturing female doctor group providing outstanding patient care and follow-up. 

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