It’s a beautiful summer morning. You’re walking through the cool, dew-covered grass in your bare feet, enjoying the simple pleasures of summer. Suddenly, you scrape your foot against a rock in the grass. You inspect your foot and notice a small scratch on the ball of your foot that’s barely bleeding. “Oh well,” you say and continue on your way.
What you don’t realize is that small scratch has exposed you to bacteria and viruses that are invisible to the naked eye but lurk in the wet grass. About a month later, you notice a skin growth on the ball of foot. You may have a plantar wart.
What Are Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are noncancerous skin growths that can develop on the plantar fascia (sole), ball, or heel of the foot. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that enters the body through little cuts, scrapes, or cracks in the skin.
The HPV strains that cause plantar warts aren’t very contagious and usually aren’t transmitted from person to person. However, the virus loves to live in warm, moist environments, like wet grass, swimming pools, shower floors, and locker rooms, where you can catch it when walking barefoot. Children, young adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to developing plantar warts.
These warts can grow deep within the skin layers of your foot due to the pressure from standing or walking. Often, they may form under a callus. And if the virus spreads, you may develop multiple warts.
While most plantar warts are often harmless and may not require treatment, they can become painful and uncomfortable – requiring treatment or removal.
The best way to prevent plantar warts from developing in the first place is to not go barefoot. Always wear flip-flops or sandals in public places, at the pool, or in locker rooms. And if your feet get wet, make sure you thoroughly dry them before putting your shoes on.
How Are Plantar Warts Diagnosed?
The signs and symptoms of these warts include:
- Small, brown or gray, pliable, but rough growths on the soles of your feet.
- Black pinpoints that are actually small, clotted capillaries or blood vessels.
- A callus that forms over a visible spot on the skin.
- Pain, sensitivity, or discomfort when standing or walking.
- Posture problems, in some cases, leading to leg and/or back pain.
You should visit your doctor for a physical exam, and possibly a skin culture, if:
- The warts are painful and/or interfere with your activities.
- The warts persist, spread, or come back, despite at-home treatment.
- You have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet.
- You have any disorders that cause a weakened immune system.
- You suspect the spot isn’t a wart.
What Are the Treatments for Plantar Warts?
Some over-the-counter, at-home treatments that your doctor may recommend include:
Salicyclic acid – Available in patches or liquid that destroy the wart slowly, allowing you to peel it away over several weeks.
Freezing medications – Products, like Compound W Freeze Off or Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away Wart Remover, freeze the wart and destroy it, so it can fall off.
Antibiotic cream – Applied after the wart has been removed to protect the site from infection.
Note: You should never treat plantar warts at home if you have diabetes, an impaired immune system, or nerve damage in your feet.
Your doctor may recommend other treatments if at-home treatments don’t work. These can include:
Freezing (cryotherapy) – Liquid nitrogen is applied to the wart to destroy it. The wart will shed within a couple weeks. The liquid nitrogen application can be painful, and blisters can form.
Cantharidin and salicylic acid application – These medications are applied to the wart, and the area is bandaged. Eventually, a painful blister will form. In about a week, your doctor will cut off the dead wart.
Immunotherapy – Your doctor will inject your wart with interferon or a foreign substance, which will cause your immune system to reject or fight off the wart. Both of these treatments may cause pain.
Imiquimod (Aldara) – This prescription cream is applied to the wart causing your immune system to attack the virus. Severe inflammation may develop at the site; and the skin around the wart may become damaged.
Minor surgery – Your doctor will cut away the wart or use an electric needle to destroy it. Scarring may result.
Laser treatment – Your doctor will cauterize the blood vessels around the wart, causing it to die and fall off. Pain and scarring may occur.
If your plantar warts are causing you pain when you stand or walk, you may want to insert ezWalker® Performance Insoles in your shoes. The ezWalker® insole is specifically designed to the contour of each one of your feet – providing you with customized support of your medial, lateral, and trans-metatarsal arches to relieve pressure on the plantar fascia, heels, and balls of your feet where plantar warts typically form. You will walk better since your gait will be biomechanically aligned, providing you with pain relief throughout your day.
Visit our website today to order your pair of ezWalker® Performance Insoles. Because … when your feet feel good, you’ll feel good.
Note: If you follow these guidelines and your wart or pain persists, you may have a more serious condition. See your physician for a more complete diagnosis and treatment.