Many parents have had the distinct pleasure of seeing their child come home with an unsightly plantar wart on the bottom of their foot. Kids seem to attract them, and while virtually all warts are medically harmless, they can range from being a minor irritant to a major embarrassment, and if they’re putting pressure on sensitive tissues they can cause pain, too. Most kids and parents prefer to have them removed rather than waiting them out, which could take months (or years).
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by a viral infection from human papillomavirus, or HPV. The virus spreads through contact, even indirectly through infected surfaces. Your skin may have tiny (even microscopic) breaks or weak points that allow HPV to enter. Dark, warm, and wet environments like showers, locker rooms, or playgrounds are especially ideal for the virus to thrive.
Contrary to popular belief, warts are not caused by poor hygiene, and even very clean people can get them. Kid gets them more often than adults largely because their immune systems are not as well equipped to fight off the infection.
Should I Worry? When Should I Seek Treatment?
Plantar warts are rarely a serious health concern in otherwise healthy individuals, and may eventually go away on their own (though it may take months or years). If the wart isn’t bothering you, you may choose to delay treatment or attempt home remedies first.
However, if a wart is painful, affecting your day-to-day activities, or bothering you for any other reason, you should see us to get it removed. You should also seek help if you have diabetes, poor sensation, an immunodeficiency disease, or are taking immune-suppressing drugs.
Finally, remember that warts are highly contagious, both from person-to-person and from spot-to-spot. If you don’t want your warts to multiply, it’s best to take care of them early.
Wiping Out Warts
If you wish, you may attempt certain approved self-care remedies first. These home treatments can be time consuming and often fail, but they may work for you.
At North Austin Foot and Ankle, our two most common in-office treatment methods are cryotherapy and chemical treatments. Cryotherapy uses a small amount of liquid nitrogen to freeze the dead skin so that it eventually sloughs off, while chemical treatment uses medication (salicylic acid) to peel off layers of the skin. Both procedures can be used together or separately, and both are performed in our office on the day of your appointment. Since there are no nerve endings in the outermost layer of skin, the process is usually painless. It may take a few repeat appointments to remove a wart for good.
In more serious cases, we may consider a minor surgical procedure to excise the wart completely.
Although no prevention methodology is 100% effective, following these guidelines can help you prevent warts from developing or spreading:
- Never go barefoot in public places, or places you might come into contact with the infection (such as a home shower shared with someone with warts).
- Keep socks and shoes dry and clean, changing at least daily.
- Don’t touch or pick at a wart unless you have been instructed to, even your own. Wash your hands carefully after touching a wart or an infected surface.
If you or a family member is suffering from a painful, problematic, or just plain annoying case of plantar warts, give Dr. Keith McSpadden a call today at 512-593-2949. We can help you or your little one by removing the bump so you can step confidently in the right direction. Our offices are located in Cedar Park and Round Rock, TX for your convenience.