A plantar wart (also called a verruca) is a wart that develops on the bottom of your foot. Anyone can get this kind of wart, but children and athletes are especially at risk, since they more often go barefoot on surfaces like wet pool decks or on locker room floors.
Plantar warts are a common problem, so it’s not surprising that you’ll find plenty of over-the-counter wart treatments in pharmacies. Unfortunately, while they’re easy to find and fairly inexpensive, these at-home wart treatments just don’t work. Why is that the case? And how can you get rid of plantar warts for good? To answer both these questions, you need to get to the root cause of plantar warts.
What Are Plantar Warts?
While they can develop on your toes or on top of your foot, a plantar wart (medically called a verruca) is an area of skin that looks different from its surroundings (we call this a skin lesion.) You may notice an area of hardened skin growing over a wart. In some cases, several warts form in one grouping, and we call those mosaic warts.
Regardless of the number or location of your warts, these growths are the result of the HPV virus. It causes an infection by entering your foot, usually through tiny cracks in the skin’s surface. Once inside your skin, those viral particles will make themselves at home inside the wart. So, to cure your plantar wart problem for good, we’ll need to hit the virus hard, deep beneath the surface layers of your skin.
Wart Symptoms: Identifying Growths on the Feet
You may have plantar warts if you notice:
A small area of skin that looks different from the surrounding area on the bottom of your foot.
That odd patch of skin may have small black dots inside
When pushed from each side, the wart lesion will hurt
The lines of your skin will disappear in the area of the wart
Putting pressure and standing on the wart causes pain
Can you ‘Catch’ Plantar Warts from Someone Else?
The answer here is yes, plantar warts can be contagious. But, unlike the common cold, they are not extremely transmittable. As a result, it’s fairly uncommon for plantar warts to pass directly from one person’s foot to another.
So, how do you come in contact with the HPV virus that causes warts to form? Well, this virus loves to live in places that are dark, warm and moist. That means they love our sweaty shoes; the surfaces of pool decks; or even the floors of showers in a locker room. As a result, avoiding socks when wearing closed-toed shoes or walking barefoot in public are two habits that dramatically increase your risk for plantar warts. Then, once you have one wart, it’s quite likely to spread to several spots on your own foot, rather than jumping to the foot of a friend or family member.
Do Plantar Warts Hurt?
Sometimes a verruca will cause pain. At other times, it won’t—in this case, location matters quite a bit. If you develop a wart on your heel or the ball of your foot, where it’s going to be under lots of pressure, it will probably be quite painful. On the other hand, if you develop a wart on your toe, it may not cause any discomfort. Similarly, a small wart is less likely to hurt than a large one. And a verruca that forms alone will be less uncomfortable than mosaic warts.
Do Warts Clear Up Without Treatment?
With time, warts may go away on their own, even without intervention. Yet that process can take years, and they don’t always self-resolve. Plus, if you take that long waiting period, they can hurt—and, they can spread. As such, it’s important to seek wart treatment instead of taking a watch-and-wait approach.
Are Over-the-Counter Wart Remedies Effective?
If you catch a plantar wart when it is just forming, you may have success with an OTC treatment that freezes the verruca or targets it with salicylic acid. However, these remedies are often unsuccessful. Plus, they can damage the surrounding foot tissue as well, so patients with diabetes should never try to treat warts on their own.
How Can You Remove Plantar Warts?
If we treat you for plantar warts in our Massapequa, NY podiatry practice, there are several wart treatment options you may ask about. Now, in the past, many people offered cryotherapy to freeze off the plantar wart, but our podiatrists have learned that this treatment is ineffective, so it’s no longer offered by the Foot Specialists of Long Island. Instead, we offer:
- Topical treatments involving salicylic acid
- Prescription medications
- Wart debridement—cutting down of the wart to expose more of its surface for topical treatments
- Minor surgery to remove the wart
- Swift therapy for plantar warts
Now, we offer lots of choices because each of our patients has different needs and preferences. However, there is one plantar wart treatment option that truly is superior to the others, and that is Swift Therapy for plantar warts. Why is this the ultimate wart treatment? Basically, Swift Therapy directly targets the plantar wart with microwave energy. Quickly, your body begins to produce an immune response. At the same time, the heat from the Swift’s energy gets water moving in your skin tissue, helping uncover the viral tissue buried deep within the wart. In combination, your immune system is better able to find and fight off the invading HPV virus, getting rid of that painful plantar wart for good.
Even better? Unlike other wart treatments, that take effect in unpredictable time frames, most of our patients say goodbye to their warts after three easy Swift treatments, each spaced out by one month. And those sessions are virtually painless, take mere seconds to complete, and leave you without a sore or wound, ready to resume normal activities as soon as you walk out of the office.
Treating Plantar Warts in Massapequa, Long Island
If you’ve been dealing with stubborn plantar warts and want to find an easy and effective solution, schedule an appointment with our podiatrists in Massapequa, NY. Dr. Mark Gasparini and Dr. Novneet Chhabra can effectively treat your plantar warts, whether you’ve got one stubborn growth or clusters of mosaic warts. Ready to walk without discomfort? Schedule an appointment today and get ready to find relief, whether you choose Swift Therapy or one of our other treatment options.