Tending to appear on the high pressure areas of the sole of the foot such as the heel and the ball, plantar warts are noncancerous skin growths, hyperkeratotic lesions or benign epithelial tumors which are caused by the type 1, 2, 4 or 63 human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV enters the body through tiny breaks of the outermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) or the epidermis when direct contact is made. Due to the weighty impact on the infected areas, plantar warts may be pushed down and therefore often grow into the deeper layers of the skin.
Plantar warts do not lead to serious health challenges but they can be bothersome and should be removed. Because plantar warts are apt to be quite persistent and resist many self administered remedies, they should, therefore, be treated by a medical professional who has the means to take more aggressive actions.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is highly contagious and it is most easily contracted when walking on public moist surfaces such as swimming pools and shower stalls or by sharing of footwear such as shoes, sandals or socks. The human papillomavirus can also spread and infect other parts of the skin in the vicinity of its original penetration. Plantar warts may also appear in conjoined clusters which are known as mosaic warts. Medical research on the subject of warts estimates that approximately ten percent of the population in the United States is affected by the human papillomavirus and has developed the warts.
Symptoms of Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are often confused with corns or calluses but they are not the same conditions and they have their own distinct set of symptoms. The most commonly occurring outwardly visible symptoms are:
- Fleshy small bumps with a grainy texture which appear on the soles of feet; most often on the heels or the balls.
- Flat and hardened growths with coarse surfaces which show clear and precise edges.
- Knobs which are grey or brown and have at least one black pinpoint. These pinpoints are sometimes mistaken for wart seeds but they are, in fact, tiny clotted blood vessels.
- Chunky bulges that disrupt the continuity of the natural wrinkles and creases in the skin of feet.
- Sharp pain particularly when walking, jogging or running.
Treatments for Plantar Warts
As always, the best and most effective medicine is preventive medicine and to prevent plantar warts is actually quite easily accomplished by simply avoiding direct contact with other people’s warts, by keeping feet clean and dry and never walking barefooted in public places.
However, when plantar warts do appear, they will eventually go away. But to expedite that eventuality and in individuals who are diabetic, pregnant or have weakened immune systems; treatment can begin with over-the-counter remedies which may include salicylic acid and/or duct tape.
If the salicylic acid and the duct tape fail to produce the desired results, more aggressive treatments which may require several visits to the doctor’s office are freezing (cryotherapy) or the application of cantharidin (beetle juice). Even more aggressive modes of treatment to rid obstinate plantar warts include minor surgeries which involve cutting the warts off or using electrodesiccation and curettage; laser surgeries; immunotherapy which involves boosting the body’s immune system to naturally reject the warts by injecting interferon or an antigen or by applying imiquimod cream onto the warts.
Other means by which to get rid of the pesky plantar warts may include a variety of injections that contain medications like bleomycin which target the virus and kill it.