What is a plantar wart?
There are different types of warts that can affect the body. Warts on feet are referred to as ‘plantar warts.’ These types of warts grow on the sole or toes of the foot, with the word ‘plantar’ meaning the sole of the foot. Plantar warts are often incorrectly referred to as planter’s warts on feet – but they have nothing to do with gardening!
Plantar warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Plantar warts can spread easily and may present as a cluster of individual warts which can cover a larger area.
A plantar wart may be painful when walking or standing and when pressure is applied to the sides of the wart; usually a sharp pain is elicited when the wart is ‘squeezed’. Often people liken the feeling of standing on a wart to the feeling of standing on a piece of glass or rock in your shoe.
Hard skin or a callus tends to build up over the wart and this contributes to the pain of a wart. As the wart grows deeper and the callus thickens the pain of the wart can increase making walking or putting any pressure on the foot difficult.
The hallmark signs of a plantar wart are tiny blood vessels at the base of the wart (which tend to look like small black dots in the centre of the wart giving the appearance of black warts on the feet), and a lack of normal skin lines. Diagnosis of a plantar wart is usually confirmed by a podiatrist shaving down the thickened skin and looking for these signs. Warts share a similar appearance to other skin conditions such as corns, callus, tumours or a reaction to a foreign body. This is why it’s important to have the diagnosis confirmed by a podiatrist prior to commencing treatment.
What causes a plantar wart?
Plantar warts are contracted by the HPV virus entering the skin through small cuts/abrasions on the bottom of the foot. This virus is commonly picked up from moist environments such as public showers and swimming centres where the virus may be present and then stepped on causing a plantar wart on the feet.
People often ask, are plantar warts contagious? The unfortunate answer is yes, they are contagious and can be caught by touching an infected site on another person. Warts can also spread quickly across the foot. For example if you have warts on the heel of your foot and sleep with your feet touching each other, the wart may spread from one foot to the other. This is why we always assess both feet for any other warts and strongly recommend that you check the feet of every family member to make sure they have not spread.
How long do warts last?
Sometimes, plantar warts resolve spontaneously without any treatment. However there are many cases where plantar warts have been present for over 20 years and are not shown any signs of going away. You may wish to see if the wart goes away by itself without treatment. However we usually recommend that treatment be initiated especially if the wart is painful, if the wart is starting to spread and to avoid spreading the wart to others.
How is a plantar wart treated?
At Entire Podiatry we offer different options for the treatment of warts. Following assessment, your podiatrist will usually pare back the wart to appreciate the size and depth of the wart and will work with you to decide on the best treatment options for you. Sometimes a combination of treatments may be required to remove the wart.
A common treatment for plantar warts is to apply an acid solution to the wart in order to break down the wart tissue. Several treatments are usually required in order to eliminate the wart, particularly if there is more than one wart or if the wart is considerably large or has been there for a long time. Your podiatrist may also prescribe wart patches or other treatments for use between consultations. We offer removal of warts using this acid solution at all of our clinic locations.
At Entire Podiatry we also offer laser therapy for the treatment of warts at our Robina Easy T and Brisbane City clinic. We use the GenesisPlus laser system which has been shown to have a high success rate in clearing warts, including warts that may have been previously unresponsive to other treatments.
How can I prevent plantar warts?
To reduce your risk of developing a plantar wart, it is recommended that you:
- Avoid going barefoot, particularly in moist and communal environments
- Change and wash your socks daily and alternate between a few pairs of shoes to allow any moisture in the shoes to dry before they are worn again
- Keep your feet clean and dry – if your feet are prone to sweating your podiatrist can recommend different types of socks to help keep your feet dry.
- Avoid directly contacting warts (either from another person or from another part of your body)
Best way to remove plantar warts on feet
Contact Entire Podiatry and book an appointment for a confidential discussion with a qualified podiatrist. We will assess the size and depth of the wart or warts and recommend the best type of treatment for you. View our locations and contact details here.