The pressure that we apply on our feet in our everyday lives, with our weight and physical movement, we are not just tiring ourselves out, but also opening doors for possible infections and warts known as “Plantar Warts”.
Plantar warts appear as any normal forms of warts do, as small-sized growths on areas of the feet where excessive pressure is usually applied (1). Weight-bearing zones like our heels are especially vulnerable to this.
Sometimes plantar warts are responsible for the thick calluses that appear under our feet. This happens when it grows inwards instead of outwards. This may be more painful to bear that outward-growing plantar wart.
What causes Plantar Warts?
The most common cause of plantar warts is the virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It is a specific group of varied viruses, most of which are the causes for different types of warts, both benign and harmful (2).
The way in which they invade the body may be from any physical intrusion like cuts or simple weak spots on our soles. Although they are known to be benign most of the time and even heal at times without specific treatment, they are often a nuisance and a source of pain.
Having weak immunity, in general, is one of the main reasons why someone would contract plantar warts. It is well known that not everyone reacts to HPV virus in quite the same way.
One thing to note, however, would be that the particular strain of HPV that causes plantar warts isn’t highly contagious (3). So the chances of you getting the wart just by coming in contact with someone with the disease may be low.
Also, unnecessarily walking barefoot only increases the chances of getting this type of warts, especially in children or people who have previously suffered from plantar warts.
Are Plantar warts dangerous?
Of the many kinds of warts, plantar warts are not so much dangerous as they are bothersome. It is only natural for someone with plantar warts on their feet to slightly change their posture to stand in a way that reduces pain. So your appearance can take a hit if you suffer from this disease.
Are Plantar warts contagious?
As is the case for all warts in general, even plantar warts are known to be contagious. However, not as contagious as most warts seem to be. Plantar warts have a long incubation period. This is the time from the infection to the time when it starts becoming visible to our eye, and is seen on the sole of the feet and so, the pain only sets in towards the end of incubation.
Along with being fairly contagious, it causes localized pain in the thicker areas on the sole. They may also cause lesions and dark spots within the area of the wart. This is when smaller capillaries within the skin are clotted with clots. Although, one thing to watch out for with plantar warts is that even though they may heal on their own, sometimes they are known to form “mosaics” of warts by fusing together (4).
How do you treat Plantar Warts?
Apart from speculative home remedies for warts, the best solution to getting plantar warts treated would be to consult with a dermatologist. They often opt for any of the following options:
– Laser treatment: this is the use of laser light to burn warts off the skin since this usually appears on the surface of the skin. But this won’t be sufficient for inward-grown warts. And they are also capable of forming scars, so should be chosen by the patient only once they are aware of these facts (5).
– Desiccation: is a treatment that is as serious as it sounds. It involves numbing the particular area of the sole with local anesthesia, only to cut into and extract the whole wart (6). This has high chances of scarring, and it also involves a procedure known as curetting.
– Cryotherapy: much like with moles, even warts like Plantar warts can be “frozen” off the skin’s surface (7). This is done with the help of liquid nitrogen applied either with a spray or other methods that localize the application. This makes warts turn black and ensures they fall off within a couple of days or more. One advantage of this procedure is that it reduces chances of scars showing up.
– Acid: yet another method is actually applying a mild form of an acid like salicylic acid to the region of concern, to burn the wart off the skin (8). When monitored and carefully executed by dermatologists or skin specialists, this may yield a scar-free end result.
– Immunotherapy: since weak immune systems are culprits for contracting the therapy in the first place, such procedures can be conducted to alter our immune systems, to either fight the disease or make it better susceptible to the different treatments.
Overall, one of the only drawbacks with plantar warts is that oral medications are not known to work on them, despite them being benign for the most part. However, a consultation with a dermatologist will definitely help in speeding up the recovery of the disease.
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