13 Jun What Exactly is a Wart
Worried About Warts?
Warts are the often subject of jokes and teasing, but they are no joke when they appear on your feet. What exactly is a wart? Lets take a look!
Warts are not only unsightly, they can cause intense, burning pain. Warts are often mistaken for corns or calluses so if you notice a hard, flat cluster of scaly skin, usually brown or gray, ask your podiatrist if it’s a wart.
Causes of Warts
Plantar warts or palmer warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is contagious and can cause warts to spread to other parts of the foot or body.
Warts sometimes go away on their own, but other times they can persist and keep growing. If you notice that a wart is getting bigger, spreading into clusters (called a “mosaic wart”) or bleeding, consult a podiatrist immediately.
Plantar warts are more common in children, seniors and people who have had them previously. They are more likely to affect people who spend a lot of time in humid environments or those with weakened immune systems.
Proper foot care can prevent them:
- Keep feet clean and dry; wear socks and shoes that let your feet breathe and change them often.
- Pay attention to any cuts or scrapes on your feet as the virus enters through breaks in the skin.
- Don’t walk barefoot outdoors; wear flip-flops in common areas like pools.
- Don’t share items used on the feet like pumice stones, nail brushes, clippers, towels or socks.
- Do not touch someone else’s wart.
Home Wart Care
You can treat your warts at home, but these treatments take a long time to show results and studies find that they only work about half the time. For fast, safe and complete wart removal you should consult a podiatrist.
Over-the-counter treatments include:
- Salycylic acid, found in drugstore products like Compound W or Occlusal. This is the best at-home remedy but it can take several months to see results.
- Tape occlusion, also known as the duct tape method.
- Home cryotherapy kits that use nitrogen to freeze off the warts. They are similar to the procedures done in a doctor’s office but the results are not as good.
Never cut, scratch or burn a wart. This could cause serious problems.
Use With Caution
Keep in mind that these home remedies contain chemicals that should only be used carefully and with a doctor’s supervision. They can be dangerous if improperly handled.
If you have diabetes or an illness that weakens your immune system, always consult your podiatrist and do not attempt wart removal yourself.
Your foot care professional can diagnose a wart and recommend the best treatment. These include:
- Prescription-strength salycylic acid.
- Cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage, a surgical procedure.
- Laser cautery to burn off the wart.
- Topical ointments that boost the immune system to fight the wart.
In most cases these medical treatments will give you immediate relief with very little pain and no scarring. To prevent warts from returning, follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions.