Plantar Warts Overview
Plantar warts is a common skin condition that affects the foot. Though plantar warts are rarely malignant, they are unsightly and sometimes painful. Also called verruca plantaris, they are small, fleshy, hard growths that appear on the bottom of the feet (the plantar surface). While these growths are typically benign and not cancerous, they are unsightly and contagious. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the primary cause of these Warts. The virus infiltrates the skin via tiny cuts or breaks. Once within the skin, it festers on the outer layer of skin leading to hard and grainy abrasions. The virus typically infects the heels and base of the toes.
Considering that these are weight-bearing areas of the feet and body, the strain can cause inward wart growths. On occasion, they may develop a callus or a hardened skin layer over the infected areas. Also, plantar warts may be painful and uncomfortable in some cases. Overall, plantar warts are not a serious health concern and can usually be easily managed.
Plantar Warts Symptoms
Plantar warts present noticeable symptoms including:
• Black dot-like lesions that appear as the wart penetrates the skin
• Pain or tenderness that occurs when walking or standing
• Callus-like hardened skin that enshrouds the growing warts
• An uncomfortable sensation that feels like something is stuck in the foot
Plantar Warts Risk Factors
While everyone can develop plantar warts, susceptibility to the virus varies. Sometimes, people who have encountered HPV may not develop the disease. Nonetheless, certain people are at a higher risk of contracting plantar warts than the rest of the populace. These include:
• Children, teenagers, and the elderly
• People with a medical history of plantar warts
• Individuals with a weakened immune system
Generally, children and the elderly have a higher tendency to see symptoms of plantar warts than everyone else. In children, warts often go away on their own, but adults typically have to deal with the bothersome foot condition for a more prolonged period
Plantar Warts Treatment
It is a given that plantar warts eventually disappear on their own without treatment however, some people may have to battle with the skin condition for a long time and feel that treatment is necessary. Plantar warts are typically treated with over-the-counter medications that either peel or freeze the wart until it is no longer visible. Severe and recurrent wart cases may be treated with laser procedures (to burn the wart), cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen is employed to freeze the wart), prescription-strength acids to peel the wart, and surgery.
Preventive and Management Strategy for Planter Warts
Since the foot is the only area affected by plantar warts, it stands to reason that paying proper attention to the foot can prevent the development of these lesions. People struggling with the disease should wear proper fitting shoes. Uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes can give room to irritation or moisture build-up, making a suitable environment for the virus to thrive.
The HPV strain that causes the development of plantar warts thrives in warm and moist surroundings, so it is best to avoid areas where the foot is likely to encounter a large quantity of water- places like swimming pools, locker rooms, and public showers. As a preventive measure, wear proper fitting shower shoes, swimming shoes, or flip flops in high-moisture environments, and always keep the feet clean and dry. Because it is contagious, do not share items like towels and shoes.
By implementing a few of these preventative measures, plantar warts can be less likely to occur. However, even when they occur, they can usually be successfully treated by a doctor.