Warts don’t come from touching toads or frogs. They come from an infection with some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which produces noncancerous growths in the top layer of your skin. They’re classified by where they are on the body — on the hands, they’re called palmar warts, and on the soles of the feet, they’re called plantar warts.
Plantar warts develop when HPV enters the skin through small cuts in your soles. The weight of your body causes the skin above the entry point to become thick and callused. Plantar warts may cause some irritation or pain, and perhaps some minor bleeding, but they’re not inherently harmful.
However, if your warts cause you pain, you may adjust the way you stand and walk, leading to serious complications with your body mechanics.
At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center our team routinely sees patients with plantar warts and offers comprehensive treatment for both wart pain and recurrent infections. As many patients don’t know what treatments are available, we have put together this guide on all things warts, especially removal.
Aren’t HPV infections dangerous?
The short answer is no. The strains of HPV that cause plantar warts are not the same ones that cause genital warts. They aren’t highly contagious, and they’re not easily transmitted from person to person. In fact, just because you come into contact with HPV, it doesn’t mean you’ll go on to develop warts.
However, you can take measures to decrease your risk. HPV thrives in warm, moist environments, like you find in swimming pools and locker rooms. If you walk barefoot in these areas, you’re more at risk of picking the virus up. And while anyone can develop plantar warts, they’re more common in:
- Young children and teenagers
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who’ve previously had plantar warts
- Those who walk unprotected in warm, wet areas
What do plantar warts look and feel like?
If you develop a plantar wart, symptoms you may experience include:
- A small lesion (rough, fleshy growth) on the sole of your foot, most commonly at the base of the toes or at the heel
- A hard callus on the skin formed over a well-defined "spot,” where the wart grows inward
- Black dots on the growth — small, clotted blood vessels (“wart seeds”)
- Pain or tenderness in the foot with weight
Understanding the different treatments for plantar warts
Many warts will clear up by themselves over the course of one to two years. However, if you’re experiencing pain or irritation, you may want to have the warts removed. There are any number of home remedies that may or may not work, but our team offers several effective in-office treatments.
Prescription-strength salicylic acid applied to the wart dissolves the lesion. The acid can also help trigger your body’s immune system to fight the underlying infection. Most patients require a number of treatments to remove the wart completely.
By freezing the wart using liquid nitrogen, our team can destroy the wart’s structure. We apply the nitrogen using a handheld device placed just over the wart.
Our team uses a scalpel to cut away the growth and reduce your risk for developing recurrent plantar warts. Our technique for this minimally invasive surgical procedure focuses on limiting damage to the surrounding skin, decreasing your risk for scarring.
Our team can also recommend preventive measures so you’re not subject to recurrent warts. For example, we may suggest custom orthotics, special shoe inserts made to fit your specific feet. These cushion your foot’s weight-bearing areas and prevent plantar wart-related pain.
Have you developed plantar warts and want them removed? Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center can help. Call the office at one of our five convenient Colorado locations to set up a consultation or book online with us today.