Plantar warts (Verruca Plantaris) are skin infections caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cause a hard and often painful thickened lesion on the sole of the foot. The viruses are present everywhere and are spread when they comes in direct contact with the skin where the outer protective layer is broken, either by minor trauma or by moisture. Plantar warts are different in their appearance from the common raised wart commonly seen on the knees and elbows of children, although these too are most common in children due to their less mature immune system.
Plantar warts are not usually a serious health concern and may disappear in a few weeks or last many years. Plantar warts often make running, jumping, and even walking, uncomfortable because they press inwards on the sensitive nerves of the skin. The tenderness can change posture and cause strain elsewhere in the body. A little wart can be a big problem.
Warts should be treated if they are spreading (either elsewhere on your foot or to other members of the family), unsightly, or continue to be painful. Many treatment options are available to treat warts. Unfortunately, ‘over the counter’ preparations are generally unsuccessful in treating plantar warts due to their deeper and calluses-over formation. In the first instance, your podiatrists may apply a mild acid (e.g., salicylic acid) topically to the wart. This treatment, which often requires multiple applications over the course of several weeks, removes the viral cells slowly and allows healthy skin cells to replace them.
Cryotherapy involves freezing warts with a very cold solution (histofreeze) that can be effective in conjunction with other treatments. This treatment is ineffective in some cases when the solution does not penetrate far enough to completely destroy the virus.
Electrocautery using hyfrecation is another method of removing large and stubborn plantar warts and needs to be performed under a local anesthetic. This procedure is skillfully performed in our surgery.
Surgical removal (excision) usually is not recommended to treat plantar warts because it can cause painful scarring.
The following may help to prevent plantar warts:
- Avoid walking barefoot in communal changing or shower rooms
- Change shoes and socks daily.
- Keep feet clean and dry.
- Check children’s feet periodically.
- Avoid direct contact with warts on other persons or on other parts of the body.
- Do not ignore growths on, or changes in, your skin.
- Visit a podiatrist immediately if you notice any lumps or sores on the foot