Close look on plantar warts

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Plantar warts typically occur on the base of the foot. Almost anyone can develop a plantar wart, but most often occur among children and young adults. The warts are triggered by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which contaminates the epidermis or upper skin layer. Even though plantar warts do not spread beyond the depth of the skin, they can be annoying and oftentimes cause pain due to their location on the weight-bearing surface of the foot.

Plantar warts are similar in appearance to corns or calluses. They have a circle-like shape that varies from a pinpoint to a few centimeters in size. In most cases, the warts have a dense layer of callused skin on the surface. In reality, it is not uncommon for an individual to consult a podiatrist believing he/she has a corn, only to discover that the lesion is actually a wart. Remember that warts have distinctive “black-colored dots” with enlarged capillaries that are best seen when the wart has been trimmed down.

Even though plantar warts do not spread beyond the depth of the skin, they can be annoying and oftentimes cause pain due to their location on the weight-bearing surface of the foot.

Vital facts about plantar warts

  • The virus responsible for causing the wart thrives well in moist environments such as shoes or the bathroom floor. If an individual has an area of open skin or wound, the wart virus can readily enter.
  • Individuals with feet that heavily sweat or overly exposed to moist environments face a high risk for developing plantar warts.
  • In some circumstances, warts simply go away. Nevertheless, it might also increase in size or number if not treated. The length of time required to eliminate a wart depends on the treatment, depth and size of the wart. Essentially, the more aggressive the treatment, the faster the wart will resolve.

Treatment for plantar warts

Various over-the-counter treatments for warts are available which mostly contain salicylic acid that is applied topically or in bandage form.  In some cases, you can use a tinned freezing spray therapy. The effectiveness of these treatment options are based on the mass of the wart and the consistency of the treatment used. Some cases of warts might not be eliminated which can lead to frustration.

The “duct tape method” has been an issue as an unconventional yet highly effective method of eliminating a wart. Take note that this technique involves frequent placement of duct tape over the wart for a number of day and then taking away the tape along with the dead skin it created. Based on further studies, it revealed that this form of treatment will not work.

In case over-the-counter salicylic acid or duct tape technique is used, apply them regularly and file off dead skin in between treatments to increase the effectiveness. This is achieved by using a pumice stone or callus file.

When to seek medical care

If a podiatrist is consulted, more effective forms of treatment will be used. The first step involves trimming down of the wart in order to easily target the actual wart. Some of the medical treatments include the following:

  • Cryotherapy or liquid nitrogen involves freezing of the lesion which causes the skin to slough off. This involves more than just treatment but generally safe.
  • Prescription-strength acid or topical medications causes sloughing of the skin and oftentimes require repeated treatment.
  • Surgical removal of the lesion using local anesthesia helps remove the wart in a single treatment but the lesion should be numbed using an injection using local anesthesia.

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