If one were to poll people to create a list of the peskiest, most embarrassing skin problems, you could put good money on warts placing in the top five. These bumpy growths are a common malady, but that doesn’t tend to make anyone less self-conscious when they catch a case of them. While warts are mostly harmless, there are times when you should see a podiatrist about them—and there are times you just want them gone as soon as possible.
An Irksome Infection
Plantar warts are the result of a virus infecting the outer layer of skin on the soles of the feet. The virus in question is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are more than 100 types of HPV, some of which cause problems in other parts of the body, but only a few of these types cause warts on the feet.
Coming into contact with HPV—even the correct types—is not an instant ticket to warts. Some people’s immune systems are capable of fending off the virus, and the strains themselves are not extremely contagious. However, certain factors can increase the risk of infection. Moist, warm environments help the virus grow and multiply, so walking barefoot through public pool areas and locker rooms poses a higher chance of contracting warts.Compromises to the skin of the feet, such as cuts, cracks, or overly softened skin (from being in the pool a long time, for example) also increase risk.
Plantar warts tend to be pretty easy to identify. They often come in the form of small, rough growths along the bottom of the foot. They’ll often contain little black flecks that some call “seeds” but are actually tiny clots in blood vessels. The bumps may be painful to stand or walk on, but are not always.
While warts on their own are usually relatively harmless, it’s always recommended that you have them looked at by a podiatrist to ensure there is nothing more harmful at play. It’s even more important to have your feet check out if:
- The site is especially painful or changes in appearance/color
- You have diabetes or decreased sensation in your feet
- You have a weakened immune system
- The warts have remained for a long time, multiply, or continue coming back
- The discomfort or embarrassment of a wart interferes with your life and activities
A case of plantar warts will often disappear on its own given enough time, but most people want them gone sooner than that. Dr. Gregg Neibauer and the staff at Alpine Foot and Ankle Clinic have treatments that can reduce the time warts remain with you. Treatments for warts include oral medications, cryotherapy (freezing them), acid treatments, and even surgical options. The best method depends on the specific case and the feelings of the patient. We’ll be sure to discuss the best options with you. While a number of “home remedies” exist for warts, many are ineffective and some can even increase the risks of other infections.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our Missoula office at (406) 721-4007. We’ll be happy to help you on your way to clear, comfortable, more confident feet sooner.