Signs and Symptoms
Plantar warts are small, grainy podiatric growths with black pinpoints on the surface. Sometimes a thick callus will form over a wart that's grown inward. Although they can form anywhere on the feet, plantar warts often develop on weight-bearing areas of the bottom of the foot such as the base of the toes, the forefoot, and the heel. A wart in these locations makes standing, walking, and other activities uncomfortable or painful. The lesions may also bleed, multiply and spread, or recur. While this condition is common and treatable, it can be concerning for people with weakened immune systems, diabetes, poor circulation, reduced sensation in the feet, and other health problems.
Causes and Risk Factors
Plantar warts are caused by a viral infection, specifically a virus from the human papillomavirus (HPV) group, that invades the body through cuts, breaks, or weak spots in the skin. HPV thrives in warm, moist environments like swimming pools and locker rooms. Once the virus makes contact with the outer layers of skin on the soles of the feet, it can cause single warts that may grow in size or multiply to form satellite warts, or mosaic warts, which are several small warts that grow together in a cluster.
Anyone can suffer from this uncomfortable, frustrating, and unsightly podiatric problem. However, factors that increase the risk for developing plantar warts include:
- Having a weakened immune system such as from a disease or genetic disorder
- Taking a prescription medication that suppresses the immune system
- Having previously had plantar warts
- Walking barefoot in warm, wet, unsanitary environments such as around a swimming pool or in a locker room
Home Care Versus Professional Treatment
For plantar warts that are unsightly but not necessarily painful, an over-the-counter treatment may be sufficient. However, the viral infection that causes plantar warts is particularly stubborn. Without professional treatment, the virus and the resulting growths can persist for years. For faster resolution—especially when warts cause pain or discomfort—there's no substitution for professional podiatric care.
Professional Plantar Wart Diagnosis and Treatment
Our experienced podiatrists can diagnose plantar warts with a simple examination and discussion of symptoms. In cases where more information is needed, we may pare the lesion to check for the characteristic pinpoint dots or remove a small section of a growth and send it away for analysis. We offer a wide range of effective treatment options for plantar warts, including advanced options. Some treatments we use to address plantar warts at our Long Island podiatry practice include:
- Prescription-strength salicylic acid. This medication causes peeling, which removes the wart layer by layer, a little at a time.
- Cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the wart, which causes a blister to form that sloughs off a few days later.
- Immune therapy. These medications or injections stimulate the body's immune system to fight the HPV infection that causes the growths.
- Surgery. When other treatments fail to provide results, we can surgically remove a problematic plantar wart or destroy it with an electric needle.
- Laser treatment. This advanced therapy uses a pulsed-dye laser to convert light into heat, destroying the tiny blood vessels in the infected tissue, which causes the wart to die and fall off.
Get Professional Care for Stubborn, Painful Plantar Warts
If plantar warts are causing you problems, don't waste time or money on ineffective home remedies or over-the-counter products. At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, our seasoned podiatrists offer options that can provide relief. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.