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Funky Foot Warts: Plantar Warts

By Dr. Sharon Fang

Plantar warts cause the top layer of skin to thicken in a specific area. Some warts stay small while others can grow and spread over an entire area if left untreated. A plantar wart usually starts off small, as a yellow or brown spot on the sole of the foot. Over time it may grow and resemble a callous. Although they aren’t dangerous to your health, they can cause some discomfort when pressure is put on the sole of the foot while walking.

Plantar warts spread easily throughout community areas such as public pools, changing rooms and other places you may find yourself barefoot. Anyone can get a wart but children are most often affected by plantar warts because they are more likely to go barefoot in public areas. The virus that causes plantar warts can enter the body through a cut or small abrasion on the foot. They also spread easily from one family member to another if the carrier doesn’t wear shoes or socks indoors.

Some plantar warts go away on their own while others can take several years to get rid of. The more stubborn the wart, the more time the wart has to spread to other areas of the foot, causing a cluster that will be more difficult to treat. You will need to seek treatment with a physician to help get rid of the wart or cluster. Some treatment options include:

Cryotherapy: Liquid nitrogen is applied by the doctor onto the wart to freeze it. This jump starts your immune system to fight the virus and get rid of the wart.

Cantharidan Acid or “Beetle Juice”: The acid is applied to the wart for a specific period of time. Once it is washed off, it will begin to produce a blister which brings the wart to the surface of the skin and can be shaved off.

Laser and surgical removal: Laser treatment is successful in some cases for very stubborn plantar warts which cause significant pain or are very deep rooted. Surgical removal is typically used as a last resort as it is a much more invasive procedure.

The best way to prevent plantar warts is to be diligent about wearing shoes or sandals in public areas, especially public pools. If a family member develops a plantar wart, make sure that he or she has their own towel and bath mat and wears shoes or slippers indoors to prevent the warts from spreading.

Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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