Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
The origin and effects of plantar warts
Most plantar warts are harmless, although they can be painful. They are often confused with other conditions such as corns or calluses (which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area that is constantly irritated). A wart, however, is a viral infection. More than 42 types of viruses are known to cause a wart.
More serious foot lesions such as malignant lesions (cancer) can sometimes be mistaken for warts. Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults, while some people seem to be immune. Warts mostly occur during puberty, periods of emotional and physical stress, pregnancy and menopause.
Warts can appear anywhere on the skin and those on the sole of the foot are called plantar warts. The virus usually invades the skin through small cuts and scrapes. When the warts grow large enough, they can be very painful.
Plantar warts appear to be hard and flat with a rough surface and well-defined borders, but their actual size is hidden since they grow under the skin. Warts are usually raised and fleshy when they appear on the foot or toes. Plantar warts are often grey or brown (but the color can vary), with a core of one or more black spots. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and tend to reproduce.
Plantar warts are often caught by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces. The virus that causes plantar warts thrives in hot, humid environments. As a result, the infection can be spread in public hygiene areas and locker rooms and can even be transmitted by trying on a pair of shoes.
Untreated, warts can grow up to 5 cm in circumference or more and can spread in clusters. Like any other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touch, scratching, or contact with the dead cells of another wart. The wart can also bleed, which is another means of spreading.
Sometimes warts can disappear spontaneously after a short period of time, and at the same rate they can reappear in the same place.
Plantar warts that develop on the arch of the foot or heel can cause sharp, burning pain. Pain occurs not only when weight is applied directly to the wart, but also when pressure is applied to the side of a wart.
- Avoid direct contact with warts, whether warts on other people or other parts of the body.
- Avoid walking barefoot except on sandy beaches.
- Change your shoes and socks every day.
- Check your feet (and those of your children) regularly.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- When trying on new shoes, always wear stockings.
Usually, over-the-counter wart medication is the first type of treatment that is tried. Acid can kill warts, but generally, by the time the wart is discovered, over-the-counter medications will be ineffective.
Our doctor’s office can treat warts in a variety of ways, including treatment with medication and surgical removal.2021