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Plantar Warts Overview

Plantar warts are given their name due to their location: the plantar aspect of the foot.

Plantar warts are given their name due to their location: the plantar aspect of the foot.

Plantar warts, also known as veruca or veruca plantari, are hard growths which grow on the base of the foot. These warts are usually located on the heel or toes, and get their name from their location since the sole of the foot is known as the plantar aspect of the foot.

Plantar warts are common warts, and are most commonly found in children ages 12-16. These warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), when the virus gains entry into the skin of the foot through wet, softened skin, cracks in dry skin, or cuts.

Planter warts are benign and in most cases, will go away on their own in about two years with no treatment. However, due to their location –they often cause irritation and can become painful if left untreated.

Plantar warts can easily spread from person to person, and are spread through direct contact with the virus. The warts are generally contracted by someone touching a surface that has been contaminated by someone infected with a wart. For instance –if someone with a wart uses a shower without any shoes –someone else who uses the shower without any shoes –is at risk of developing a wart. While warts are not considered to be highly contagious, if the right conditions are present, you could become infected. The virus that causes this type of wart thrives in warn, damp environments –so it’s easy to contract the virus from swimming pools or shower rooms.

Planter wart symptoms include:

  • A small, grainy growth on the bottom of the foot
  • A callous over a spot on the skin where the wart has grown inward
  • Pain while walking or standing

There are a number of treatment options for platar warts, each with a varying degree of success.

  • Topical Acids – Wart medications that contain salicylic acid work by removing layers of a wart a little bit at a time. You can apply topical medicine at home. Salicylic acid is often combined with freezing.
  • Freezing the Wart – Freezing is done at the doctor’s office, and involves applying liquid nitrogen to your wart.
  • Laser – Laser treatment burns the wart with a laser beam, cauterizing the tiny blood vessels and causing the infected tissue to die, and the wart to fall off.
  • Surgery – Minor surgery can be performed to remove the wart. Although this procedure can cause scarring and often isn’t used.

If your plantar wart is causing you pain or irritation, contact your podiatrist for information on treatment options, including freezing the wart or removing it with laser surgery.

Image: Melanie Cook

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