Warts are raised skin growths caused by a viral infection and classified by their location on the body. They’re palmar warts on the hands and plantar warts on the soles of the feet.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, serving the Monroe Township area of New Jersey, podiatric physician and surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and his team understand that, while not medically dangerous, foot warts can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. That’s why they offer a number of treatment options to rid you of the problem.
Foot warts do affect your podiatric health in a number of ways, though, ways that Dr. Perel wants his patients to be aware of. Here’s the lowdown.
Virus transmission and wart formation
Plantar warts are caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), different from those that cause genital warts. In fact, they’re not highly contagious, and they don’t move easily from person to person — they need the right environment.
The virus gains access to your body through small cuts in the soles of your feet. The weight of your body causes the entry point to become thick and callused, and the wart to grow deeper into the skin. Plantar warts aren’t dangerous, but the calluses can be uncomfortable, the growth may produce some irritation or pain, and you may experience some minor bleeding.
HPV grows best in warm, moist environments, such as in swimming pools and locker rooms. If you walk barefoot in these areas, you put your foot health at risk. The virus creates a wart at the point of entry, but it can spread to other locations, causing new warts to appear and the problem to multiply.
While HPV is pretty much an “equal opportunity” invader, it’s much more likely to cause warts in:
- Children and teenagers (less concerned about foot care)
- Those who are immunocompromised
- Those who’ve had an HPV infection before
- Those who don’t protect their feet in locker rooms
What symptoms do foot warts produce?
If you develop plantar warts, you’ll experience:
- A small, rough, fleshy growth, most probably at the base of the toes or at the heel
- A callus over the entry point
- Black pinpoints (“wart seeds”) on the growth — small, clotted blood vessels
- A lesion stretching across the normal skin ridges
- Pain or soreness when standing or walking
What foot warts mean for your podiatric health
Just because warts aren’t medically dangerous, it doesn’t mean they don’t affect your podiatric health.
If you get foot warts, it means you have HPV in your system, and one thing viruses do very well is spread, even ones that aren’t particularly contagious. Your feet may go from weathering a single uncomfortable wart to a number of them at one time. In addition, having a case of plantar warts means that even if you treat them effectively, the problem is likely to resurface at some point.
If you see a number of warts, it may also mean you have a compromised immune system that’s fueling the infection; it’s best to make an appointment with your primary care doctor to determine if this is the case so he can treat that problem.
And if you’re walking around in locker rooms with your feet unprotected, it means you’re not being mindful of your podiatric health. Just like your heart and lungs and digestive system, your feet need proper care to remain undamaged. Dr. Perel can help you identify strategies from foot protection to arch and heel support that will keep your feet healthy.
A more serious complication of foot warts is when they cause you pain. You instinctively shift the way you stand and walk to relieve your distress. That can lead to more severe complications with body mechanics and more widespread pain and discomfort.
Treating foot warts
The good news is most warts clear up by themselves, usually within a period of two years. If you’re uncomfortable, though, you have many treatment options to remove the growths.
Dr. Perel offers several treatment options. These include salicylic acid to dissolve the wart’s layers; cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart and cause it to fall off; and micro excision, where he cuts the wart out of your foot, taking care not to damage surrounding skin.
Preventing warts in the first place is better than having to treat them later. Aside from always wearing foot protection in moist areas, Dr. Perel also recommends custom orthotics. These shoe inserts cushion the weight-bearing areas of your foot, so you don’t adjust your stance and your gait.
If you’re dealing with foot warts and want relief, look no further than Monroe Foot & Ankle Care. Give our office a call at 732-521-6166 to set up a consultation with Dr. Perel, or book online with us today.