Plantar warts are hard warts that develop on the bottom of the foot, They are usually caused by a virus. These warts usually appear at the heel or ball of the foot, on areas subjected to the most pressure from walking and standing. Plantar warts can even grow inwards beneath a callous, which is a hard, thick layer of skin. Symptoms of a plantar wart include a small area of thickened skin that resembles a callous, pain, and sometimes even tiny black dots where blood has dried in blood vessels within the wart.
Plantar warts are the result of infection from the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus enters the body through tiny cuts, cracks or breaks in the skin. HPV causes warts on other parts of the body too. The virus can be picked up in communal showers or swimming pools.
A podiatrist will treat warts that cause discomfort or pain, or resist conservative treatment such as over-the-counter medications. A foot care specialist can prescribe strong peeling medications that remove warts one layer at a time. If the wart is particularly resistant, the podiatrist may have a patient return for regular visits for the dying wart to be scraped down and a high grade medication applied.
Cryotherapy, commonly known as “freezing therapy,” is also an effective treatment for plantar warts. To perform cryotherapy, the foot doctor sprays liquid nitrogen onto the wart or uses a swab to apply the chemical. Liquid nitrogen causes a blister to form around the wart; dead tissue drops off within a week or so. Repeat treatments are often necessary to kill and remove plantar warts and reveal smooth, wart-free skin on the foot.
A foot doctor may recommend other treatments if peeling medications and cryotherapy do not work. Other treatments include:
However, plantar warts typically do not require the attention of a medical professional, as they often disappear within a year or two.
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