Warts are a soft tissue condition that can affect the feet. They are caused by a virus and can also appear anywhere on the skin. When they develop on the sole of your foot, they are called plantar warts. In general, teenagers are more susceptible to warts than adults, but children can also develop them. Some people can even be immune to wart development.
The virus that causes warts typically invades your skin through small or invisible cuts/abrasions. Walking barefoot on a dirty surface or ground where the virus could be present is one of the most common causes of plantar warts. It thrives in a warm, moist environment, which means that the risk of developing a wart is often higher in communal bathing facilities.
If a wart is left untreated, they can grow to an inch or more. They can even replicate, developing into clusters of several warts, called “mosaic warts”.
Like any other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching, or even by contact with skin shed from another wart.
A wart can also bleed, causing another route for spreading. Warts may spontaneously disappear over time, and can just as frequently reappear in the same location.
Warts are often harmless, however they may become painful. They are often mistaken for corns or calluses – build up of dead skin to protect an irritated area.
The self-treatment of a wart is generally not advisable. Over the counter aids contain acids or chemicals that can destroy skin cells. It takes an expert to be able to destroy abnormal cells, while not destroying surrounding healthy tissue.
Self-treatment with these over the counter medications should be avoided by diabetic or those with cardiac or circulatory issues. We also highly recommend you never use these medications in the presence of an active infection.
You should consult with a podiatrist when any suspicious growth or eruption is found on the skin of your foot. There are numerous other lesions that can appear on the foot, including malignant lesions like carcinomas and melanomas. These are rare, but are often misidentified as a wart, so a correct diagnosis is important.
Your podiatrist will prescribe and supervise the use of a wart-removal preparation. Likely, removal of warts can be done by a simple surgical procedure done under local anesthesia.
Lasers are also effective in treating warts: CO2 laser cautery can be performed under local anesthesia to eliminate a wart lesion, plus it reduces the risk of post-treatment scarring.