Plantar warts or verruca are skin infections caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Warts are hard and often painful lesions on the sole of the foot. The viruses are spread via direct contact with the skin which can occur through mild cuts or grazes with an infected surface. This commonly occurs through contact with wet flooring at swimming pools.
Plantar warts are different in appearance than common warts seen on elbows and knees. They are usually more callused with thick, dry skin, and are generally sore to walk on. Plantar warts are not usually a serious health concern and may disappear on their own, however they can often make walking, running and jumping painful because they press onto the sensitive nerve endings of the skin.
Wart vs corn – what do we typically see with a wart?
- Painful to walk on
- No obvious cause (eg shoes not contributing, not a bony lump)
- Skin lines go around the wart
- It is painful to pinch rather than to push on
- There are small black spots on the wart
When to seek treatment For Plantar Warts?
Warts should be treated if they are spreading (either on your foot or to other family members), unsightly or painful. They are common in children, and should be monitored for pain or if they are causing impairments. Many plantar wart treatment options are available however many ‘over the counter’ treatments are usually unsuccessful due to their deep and overlying callus formation and low concentration acidic solutions. The wart portion that you can see is just the tip of the iceberg – there is a deeper root that extends into the skin which is not well reached with over the counter treatments.
What does a wart treatment involve?
Your Podiatrist will gently shave away the excess build up of hard skin around the wart. They will apply Cryotherapy (freezing) which involves applying a very cold solution to the wart which is well tolerated. They will then apply a mild acid (salicylic acid) topically to the wart with soft padding around the area. This treatment often requires weekly treatments until settled. The way the treatment works through removing the viral cells slowly and allowing the healthy cells to replace them. Surgical excision is generally not recommended for plantar warts due to potential for scar tissue under the sole of the foot.
If left untreated, warts be transferred to other family members – it is best to get them treated so that you can have comfortable feet once again. Plus, your family will thank you for it!