Most foot warts are harmless, even though they may be painful. They are often mistaken for corns or calluses - which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is being continuously irritated. A wart, however, is a viral infection.
More serious foot lesions such as malignant lesions can sometimes be mistaken as a wart. Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults; some people seem to be immune.
Plantar warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of the foot that can be quite painful. They are caused by a virus, which generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but, technically, only those on the sole are properly called plantar warts.
Plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, with a rough surface and well-defined boundaries; warts are generally raised and fleshier when they appear on the top of the foot or on the toes. Plantar warts are often gray or brown (but the color may vary), with a center that appears as one or more pinpoints of black. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency to reoccur.
The plantar wart is often contracted by walking barefoot on dirty surfaces or littered ground. The virus that causes plantar warts thrives in warm, moist environments, making infection a common occurrence in public bathing facilities.
If left untreated, warts can grow to an inch or more in circumference and can spread into clusters of warts. Like any other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching, or even by contact with skin shed from another wart. The wart may also bleed, another route for spreading.
Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time, and, just as frequently, they can recur in the same location.
Plantar warts that develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot - the ball of the foot, or the heel, can cause sharp, burning pain. Pain occurs when weight is brought to bear directly on the wart, although pressure on the side of a wart can create equally intense pain.
- Avoid direct contact with warts - from other persons or from other parts of the body.
- Avoid walking barefoot, except on sandy beaches.
- Change your shoes and socks daily.
- Check your children's feet periodically.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
Over-the-counter foot wart treatments are usually ineffective because their use can inadvertently destroy surrounding healthy tissue. Our practice can treat warts a variety of ways, including medication and laser cautery.