Plantar warts are skin growths that occur on the bottom of the feet in the outer layer of the skin. These warts look like small callouses, about the size of a pencil eraser that grows inward and are tender to the touch. Sometimes they appear to have little black dots inside of them caused by tiny blood vessels that have grown within. These warts are viral infections caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and they are noncancerous. They tend to be painful because of the pressure that is exerted on them when a person walks. They typically get in to the skin on the bottom of the foot through cuts, breaks or weak spots in the skin.
Plantar warts thrive in areas that are warm and moist. Examples of this are gym locker rooms, around the sides of a pool, and in people’s shoe gear. The wart is not easily transmitted from person to person unless direct contact is made with the site of infection.
People who are susceptible to plantar warts include:
• Children and teenagers
• People with weakened immune systems
• People who have had plantar warts in the past
• People who frequently go barefoot in public showers.
Treatment options for plantar warts are prescribed by a physician and include:
• Salicylic Acid – When applied to the infected skin will cause it to peel off in layers over time. It is a slow process but effective and requires multiple treatments.
• Cryotherapy – Freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. This method tends to be a little painful and usually takes a few weeks to see results. Typically it has to be performed more than once.
• Laser treatment – A treatment whereby a pulse dyed laser cauterizes (burns) the wart and destroys the blood vessels that lead to it.
• Minor surgery – The wart is destroyed using an electric needle. It is painful and may cause a scar so it isn’t used frequently.
There is also a home remedy whereby a person will cover the wart with silver duct tape, soak it in warm water every day and remove the tape every six days. The wart is left uncovered for 12 hours and then the process is repeated. This is method may be popular but not very effective for everyone.
In healthy people, plantar warts will usually resolve on their own in a year or two. However because they can be uncomfortable, people usually chose to seek medical treatment. A podiatrist (foot doctor) is specially trained to treat plantar warts. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.