The idea that touching a frog can give you warts makes great fairy tales and folklore, but in reality, warts come from something much less slimy and much more prevalent — viruses. Viruses are everywhere in the air and on the surfaces we touch hundreds of times each day. Some of those viruses can make you sick, and some can give you warts.
If you have skin, you can get warts. They can pop up just about anywhere, but they’re most common on the hands and feet. Warts are generally harmless, unless you count the hit to your self-esteem when you try to hide the embarrassing bumps.
But if the warts on your feet are painful to walk on, come in to New Canaan Podiatry and see Dr. Jennifer Tauber. She can expertly and efficiently remove your plantar warts (foot warts) right in the office and get you back on your feet again.
The wart-causing virus
The bumpy growths of flesh on the bottom of your feet may seem like calluses, but they’re actually plantar warts. How did they get there? You likely stepped bare-footed onto a surface that had been contaminated by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s a common virus that lurks in public areas and sticks to surfaces like public showers, gym floors and equipment, playgrounds, and door knobs.
A miniscule knick or cut in your skin is the only encouragement needed for HPV to dive in and get to work. It gets into your outer layer of skin and quickly multiplies. That rapid cell growth turns into a wart or cluster of warts.
Some people are more prone to warts
Since the HPV virus is everywhere, but not everyone gets warts, the key lies in the strength of the immune system and its ability to resist HPV. Those with compromised or underdeveloped immunity tend to get warts more frequently, which explains why children get more warts than adults.
Genetics play a role as well. If you have a family history of warts, you’re more likely to get them yourself.
Plantar warts are unique
Most warts are raised and sit on top of your skin like a firm mole. Plantar warts, on the other hand (or foot), tend to grow inward instead of outward because of the pressure placed on them when you walk. Rather than a round bump like you might get on your hand, a plantar wart appears flatter and more spread out, much like a common callus.
Plantar warts have another unique identifying characteristic — black dots. If you think you have a callus on your foot, take a closer look. If you see tiny black dots in the middle of that fleshy growth, you’ve got yourself a plantar wart. Those dots are little blood vessels inside the wart.
Getting rid of warts
Because warts are harmless, there’s no need to get rid of them unless they’re causing you physical or emotional discomfort. This is most common in plantar warts since you constantly step on them. Here are a few of the ways to approach the unwanted warts in your life.
Wait it out
Most warts will go away on their own. The problem is that it could take a year or two before it finally fades. So if you’re willing to live with the bumpy skin and would rather avoid treatment, you have the option of waiting it out and letting nature take its course.
However, you do run the risk of allowing your warts to spread. Your existing warts can multiply by infecting other places on your body that have little abrasions.
Do it yourself
Home remedies are fairly effective at removing warts, but they can take several treatments over the course of weeks or months and may not remove your warts completely. Here are your options:
- Duct tape: Place a piece of duct tape over your wart all day for six days at a time. Then remove it and file the wart down with an emery board. Repeat.
- Topical treatments: Try over-the-counter gels and ointments with salicylic acid to peel the wart away.
- Freeze spray: Found in most drug stores, freeze spray kills the wart tissue.
One warning though: If you have diabetes or peripheral artery disease, don’t attempt to treat your plantar warts at home. Always see a podiatrist for any type of foot injury, no matter how small.
When your warts are causing you pain or embarrassment and at-home remedies aren’t doing the trick, it’s best to seek professional treatment. Depending on the size and location of your plantar warts, Dr. Tauber may recommend:
- Padding the wart
- Treating it with a pulsed-dye laser
- Using prescription ointments
- Cryotherapy (freezing it off)
- Cutting it off with a scalpel
When your plantar warts are putting a hitch in your gait, it’s time to hobble in to our office where we can give you relief from the pain in your feet. Call our office in New Canaan, Connecticut, today or book an appointment online.