The Word on Warts

Most likely you will discover a wart on the bottom of your foot by chance or if you feel a sudden pang, or slight itch. Plantar warts are unsightly, and can be a nuisance, but they typically do not present a serious health threat. They can, however, cause discomfort and pain, to the degree that you might even change how you walk to keep them from hurting. According to studies, over 20 million people in the US have experienced plantar warts. Those that appear on the sole of the foot are called plantar warts. The best way to avoid getting a wart on your foot is to avoid going barefoot, especially in communal areas like locker rooms and pools.

What causes warts

The virus that causes warts, technically called the human papillomavirus (HPV), generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. It thrives in warm, moist environments, and like any other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching, or even by contact with skin shed from another wart. Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time, and, just as frequently, they can recur in the same location.

Signs and symptoms

If you notice a wart on your foot, don’t fret, most warts are harmless, even though they may be painful. Many people mistaken warts for corns or calluses, which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is being continuously irritated. The wart, however, is a viral infection. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency to reoccur.

Unfortunately, when plantar warts develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot (the ball of the foot, or the heel, for example), they can be the source of sharp, burning pain. Pain occurs when weight is brought to bear directly on the wart, although pressure on the side of a wart can create equally intense pain.

When to Visit a Podiatrist

It is wise to consult a podiatric physician when any suspicious growth or eruption is detected on the skin of the foot in order to ensure a correct diagnosis. It is possible for a variety of more serious lesions to appear on the foot, including malignant lesions such as carcinomas and melanomas. Although rare, these conditions can sometimes be misidentified as a wart.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although popular, over the counter wart removal remedies don’t always work and may not completely eliminate the wart.  If your wart is bothersome and painful it’s best to see your doctor who can perform a simple surgical procedure to take the whole wart out for good.

Tips for wart prevention

  • Avoid walking barefoot
  • Change shoes and socks daily
  • Keep feet clean and dry
  • Check children’s feet periodically
  • Avoid direct contact with warts from other persons or from other parts of the body
  • Do not ignore growths on, or changes in, your skin
  • Visit your podiatric physician as part of your annual health checkup

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