Plantar warts are raised, fleshy growths on the soles of your feet caused by a viral infection. They’re the same type of warts that show up on your hands, but they’re named for their location on the body.
Podiatric physician and surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and his team at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care understand that plantar warts can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing, even if they’re not a serious condition. That’s why they offer a number of treatment options for their patients in Jamesburg, New Jersey, including laser treatment.
What causes wart formation?
Plantar warts are caused by certain variants of the human papillomavirus (HPV), though none are the type that causes genital warts. In fact, these HPV strains aren’t spread easily from one person to another. They need a suitable environment, one that’s warm and moist, just like you’d find around a swimming pool or locker room. That’s why walking barefoot in such areas isn’t advisable.
The virus enters your body through small tears in the skin of your feet. Your body weight presses down on the entry point, causing it to thicken and become callused as the wart grows deeper into the skin.
Warts aren’t a major health threat, but the calluses can be uncomfortable, and the virus, once entrenched, can spread to other locations. In addition, you may have some pain and/or minor bleeding at the site.
HPV is pretty much an “equal opportunity” invader, but those at the most risk are children and teenagers (who aren’t as careful about foot care), immunocompromised individuals, people who’ve had an HPV infection before, and, of course, anyone who walks barefoot in a public locker room.
Why should you remove warts?
Warts aren’t medically dangerous, but they still affect your podiatric health.
Having plantar warts means you have a viral infection. Even viruses that aren’t particularly contagious are still masters of replicating themselves, so you may go from having a single, uncomfortable wart to a bunch at one time. And being infected makes you more vulnerable to becoming reinfected.
Developing clusters of warts may also mean your immune system is compromised in some way, which fuels the infection. You should make an appointment with your primary care physician to determine if you have an underlying condition that needs to be treated.
In addition, warts that cause you pain or other discomfort can have widespread consequences. It’s natural to shift the way you walk to avoid putting weight on the uncomfortable wart. However, that alters your body mechanics, which may lead to developing additional pain in your feet, legs, and even your back. Removing plantar warts can help you avoid all these problems.
Treating foot warts
Most warts eventually clear up by themselves, but it can take about two years, which is pretty long to wait, especially if you’re having symptoms. Fortunately, Dr. Perel offers several treatment options, including laser treatment.
A pulsed-dye laser is the primary type of laser used to remove warts. The light heats up the tiny blood vessels inside the wart, destroying them. Without blood, the wart can’t survive and falls off. The laser’s heat may also target the virus that causes the wart.
You may experience a sensation like a rubber band snapping against your skin during treatment, but you won’t feel much pain after the procedure is done. You’ll be fully healed in 2-4 weeks.
A carbon dioxide laser is another option; it’s as effective as a sharp knife. First, Dr. Perel uses the laser to cut away the top of the wart. Next, he makes the light a bit less focused, so it burns away the rest. You may have more scarring with this treatment than you’d get from a pulsed-dye laser.
Both lasers can stir up debris that may include the virus, a definite downside, but the benefits usually outweigh the risks.
If you’re dealing with plantar warts and want an effective way of getting rid of them, laser treatment may be right for you. To learn more and schedule a consultation with Dr. Perel, give Monroe Foot & Ankle Care a call at 732-521-6166 or book online with us today.