Warts, also known as Verrucae are rough non-cancerous skin growths on the bottom of your feet. Warts are caused by the HPV (Human Papillomavirus), and cannot be seen by the naked eye. They maybe found as a single lesion or can be in a multiple clustered lesions. You may see small black dots at the center of the warty tissue. These black dots are not the wart, but the ends of tiny blood vessels.
There are many types of HPV viruses that can grow on many parts of your body. Plantar warts are one type, and most commonly grow at the pressure points on the bottom of your feet. Plantar warts can be very painful.
Some people are naturally resistant to the HPV virus; Others are more susceptible to the virus. Warts are contagious and can be transferred from person to person through any direct skin contact. Sometimes warts can disappear on their own, however most warts are present for months or even years without treatment, and can spread if not treated. When warts spread, they will grow in clusters called mosaic warts.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK TREATMENT FOR WARTS?
Warts are self-limiting. Since they are caused by a virus, they may disappear on their own. However, most warts will remain for months or even years and can spread.
You should seek medical advice if your warts become painful, or if they are persistent and they multiply. If you have Diabetes or Circulatory Problems, consult a physician immediately. Sometimes, you may not be sure that you have a wart. If this is the case, call your doctor to make the correct diagnosis. Sometimes, what may appear to be a wart may really be something more serious like a carcinoma (cancerous tumor) or a melanoma.
Most podiatrists are able to diagnose a wart just from the appearance of the lesion. However, a wart may appear as callus or a corn and may need to be pared down. A wart will show pinpoint bleeding (tiny blood vessels) at the center, but a callus will not. If identification still cannot be made, your podiatrist may send a sample of the tissue to the lab.
There are a variety of treatment options for eliminating a wart. Your Podiatrist will best be able to advise you on which treatment is best for you. If you are on steroids, have diabetes or are immunocompromised the treatment may be prolonged, and the wart may recur.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR A WART?
The first line of treatment usually includes applying various medications to try and either chemically burn the wart or to dry out the wart, using either salicylic acid or formalin solution. Another topical medication is Aladara Cream, used only to stimulate the skin’s immune response to the wart. If the topical medications do not help to eliminate the wart, a second line of treatment would be either lazer surgery or electrodessication to try and burn the wart.
Other treatments include duct tape, cryotherapy, cantharidin (a chemical found naturally in the Meloidae beetle) which causes the skin to blister and aids in elimination of the wart; Some less frequently used treatments include Interferon or Bleomycin injections, which helps the body to fight off the warts.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID GETTING A WART?
Preventative measures can be taken to avoid getting a wart. Eliminate any direct contact with the wart, including your own if you already have one. You should change your shoes and socks daily and keep your feet clean and dry at all times. Warts form best in a wet environment. Excessive sweating can help the wart to thrive. Avoid going barefoot at public pools or at gym locker rooms.
There are many treatment options for eliminating a wart. Consult your podiatrist if you have any lesions that may appear to be a wart. The quicker a wart is diagnosed, the faster it can be eliminated before it starts to spread.
By: Dr. Sharon Joag