Plantar warts are small growths that appear mainly on your heels or other weight-bearing areas of your feet. The pressure on these warts can cause them to grow inward, creating a clump of hard, thick skin (mosaic warts). Warts can also appear on the hands, and these are called palmer warts. Plantar warts are common, particularly in children.
Most people will have a wart at some point in their lifetime. Some corns and calluses are mistaken for plantar warts. In some warts, little black dots appear. These are called “seed” warts. The black dots are small blood vessels that have grown into warts.
Symptoms of warts:
- Hard, thickened skin.
- Small, fleshy grainy growths on the bottom of your foot.
- Pain or tenderness when standing or walking.
- Little black dots on growths.
What are the causes?
Plantar warts are skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of skin. The virus that causes these skin-growths is called HPV. HPV enters your body through little cuts or weak spots at the bottom of your foot. Plantar warts spread from person to person. For example, if a child has a wart on his hand and touches a surface that is then touched by another child, that child is likely to get a wart.
Another example would be if someone with warts on their feet uses a shower without flip-flops and then whoever uses the shower after them will develop a wart. If your immune system is weak, your risk of getting a wart is increased as the virus has a better chance to enter your body.
What to do about them
Prevention is better than cure, so lowering your risk of getting plantar warts is your best bet.
- Avoid touching warts, including your own warts.
- Wash your hands carefully after touching a wart.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. Change your shoes and socks daily.
- Avoid walking barefoot around swimming pools and locker rooms, always wear flip flops
- Don’t pick at warts.
Plantar warts shouldn’t raise serious alarm bells because they usually go away without treatment. Still, here are a few self-treatments you can try at home.
- Stick a small piece of duct tape over your wart and leave it on for six days. Remove it and soak the wart in water and then gently remove it with a pumice stone. This could take a few months to work.
- Ask your pharmacist for over-the-counter helpers like gels, ointments and lotions. Ask for ones with salicylic acid to help peel the wart. Freezing spray can kill the wart tissue. These remedies work about 50% of the time.
- If home treatment doesn’t help, see your doctor. Medical treatment includes removing the wart with surgery and injecting medications to help clear up the wart.
See your doctor immediately if:
- The discomfort caused by the wart prevents you from doing any activities.
- Treatment isn’t working.
- The growths are bleeding, painful, or changes in colour.
- You have diabetes.
- You aren’t sure if you have a wart or another kind of growth.
- You have a weak immune system because of an immune disorder or immune-suppressing drugs.