Plantar Warts: Symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention and risk factors
Plantar wart after treatment with salicylic acid. Despite several efforts the treatment failed.

Contrary to the old wise tales warts are not contracted from contact with a toad. Warts are contracted from the HPV virus. Humans become infected with the virus through breaks or cracks in the skin. The HPV virus flourishes in warm moist environments like public locker rooms, showers, or swimming pools. Plantar warts can spread to other areas of the foot and increase in size or number. This results in clusters of bumps or nodules.

Plantar warts are typically non-cancerous skin growths or virus on the soles of feet caused by the human papillomavirus virus (HPV). Plantar warts typically enter the body via tiny cuts, liaisons, cracks or breaks in the skin. Plantar warts frequently develop on the soles of the feet at pressure points like the heels or balls of the feet.

Generally, plantar warts do not represent a serious health concern. Plantar warts may be irritating or painful and can be resistant to treatment. See a physician if warts are painful or irritating or do not respond to home remedies.

Plantar Warts: Symptoms

Plantar warts can be mistaken for corns or calluses. To determine what type of warts are present look for small flesh colored bumps on the soles of the feet. Plantar warts are typically hard flat growths with well-defined boundaries and a rough surface. The brownish growths should have one or more black points or dots housed in the wart that represent blood vessels. These tiny black dots are not wart seeds. Small plantar warts can be diagnosed as bumps that segment normal contours or lines in the skin on the foot.

Plantar Warts Symptoms that mean Emergency

Plantar warts are caused by a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). The plantar warts symptoms vary in appearance. Sometimes the plantar warts are flat and smooth and can only be detected by either a brown or grayish yellow color. Some health professionals theorize that plantar warts appear smooth because they are actually flattened by the pressure placed on the foot. Plantar warts are observed to be found on pressure areas such as the heel and the balls.

However, there also cases when the plantar wart symptoms appear as rough, spongy or scaly lumps. The lumps are the skin cells that have been destroyed by the virus. If one takes a closer look at the lumps, tiny dark dots can be discerned. These dots are actually dead capillaries or small blood vessels. The problem with these plantar warts symptoms is that they make walking difficult and painful. With numerous bumpy plantar warts, a person may feel as if he is walking barefoot over jagged terrain.

Whether the plantar warts are flat or lumpy, these can be treated with over-the-counter treatments such as salicylic acid. Plantar wart symptoms do not normally constitute an emergency. But when the small plantar warts have fused together to form bigger ones, which are called mosaic warts, the feet may no longer withstand any weight because of the extreme pain. It is sensible to seek emergency medical care and have the warts removed.

When the plantar warts symptoms changed for the worse, it is again prudent to seek emergency medical attention. This happens when the lumps swell and bleed and the grayish color has changed into reddish. Emergency care is also needed when the small lesions have grown. This indicates that the plantar warts have an infection.

Many emergency care physicians are capable of dealing with plantar warts. They use a variety of methods such as cryotherapy and local surgery. But the patient must be aware that the plantar warts symptoms do not disappear immediately after the first treatment session. In fact, it is normal to expect that new plantar warts will appear. If the plantar warts symptoms persist after weeks of treatment, the physician may refer the patient to a dermatologist.

After treatment, the feet must be closely observed for signs of infection. If they remain tender and painful and if there is bleeding, it is assumed that there is already an infection. Again, emergency treatment is needed. If the patient develops fever, feels a burning sensation, and finds abscess in the region where the plantar warts symptoms are treated, emergency care must be sought.

Having plantar warts is not an emergency condition. But if the plantar wart symptoms worsen, then emergency treatment is required.

Plantar Warts Symptoms in Children

Plantar wart is known by several names. Some call it “verruca” because verruca is the Latin word used to refer warts. Some refer to it as subungual wart because the plantar warts symptoms can go deep beneath the skin. And some call it plane juvenile warts because the children appear to be more susceptible to acquire plantar warts.

Children are more prone to have plantar warts because of two major reasons. First, the immune system of a child is not as strong and ready to fight off viruses that caused the plantar warts. This also means that the plantar warts symptoms in children appear worse. Second, most children have the habit of running around barefoot in places where the plantar warts viruses may be found, such as in the school shower, the gym, and pools.

Are the plantar wart symptoms in children similar to those found in adults? The plantar warts symptoms in children, as well as in adults, can be found in the areas of the foot where the greatest pressures are exerted such as the heel and the balls of the feet. The plantar warts, since they take in the weight of the body, will be uncomfortable and painful. If adults are having a hard time in dealing with plantar warts, the children will be thoroughly distressed.

Therefore, parents should be especially alert when children are beginning to have the plantar warts symptoms. This is because the symptoms are not easy to identify when these are still small and do not cause so much pain. A sure way to identify plantar wart symptoms is to pinch any lesion found in the foot. If the child says that the pinching causes pain, then it is best to assume that the lesion indicates plantar warts. The parents must take immediate steps to treat the warts and prevent their recurrence.

The plantar warts symptoms in children are mostly dark and rough. There will be blackish dots that are barely visible. These dots are tiny blood vessels called capillaries. They no longer perform their function of distributing nourishing blood to the areas of the foot. Instead, they become centers for viruses to thrive and multiply. It is simpler and faster to treat plantar warts when these are small. Over-the-counter topical medications can be used effectively. But when the plantar warts symptoms merge together to form bigger ones, called mosaic warts, the treatment will take longer.

Plantar Warts: Causes

You acquire warts through direct contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 types of HPV. Some types of HPV tend to cause warts on your hands, fingers or near your fingernails. Others tend to cause warts on the feet.

Compared to other types of HPV virus, plantar warts are not highly contagious. However, plantar warts live well in warm moist environments, like shower floors, locker rooms or public swimming pools. The virus can be contracted in public areas by walking barefoot where the virus is present.

Similar to other infectious diseases, HPV may be passed from person to person. As plantar warts exist on the bottom of feet, the virus can spread other places on the foot by touching or scratching. The virus may also spread by contact with skin shed or blood from a wart.

As individual immune systems respond differently to HPV virus not everyone who comes in contact with HPV develops warts. Other family members, although exposed, may respond to the virus differently. This is one reason why entire families do not necessarily contract warts or spread them through shared clothing, towels, or showers.

How to Deal with the Causes and Risks of Plantar Warts

The pathogen that causes plantar warts is known as the human papillomavirus, which is commonly called the HPV. It can attack any part of the foot but the parts that receive the worst symptoms are the heels and the balls. These are the areas where the greatest pressure exerted by the body’s weight is found. The plantar warts cause, which is the HPV, becomes deeply embedded underneath the skin where it produces skin growths that can only be called lumps or bumps.

These lumps begin as small zits that slowly but relentlessly grow to form the painful plantar warts. Sometimes, there are numerous single warts that are scattered around the foot. These single warts are described as solitary plantar warts. At other times, the warts grow too near each other and they may merge to form the dreaded mosaic warts. Solitary plantar warts have been observed to be easier to treat than mosaic warts. Fortunately, plantar warts eventually heal. Following plantar wart removal and healing, the next logical step is to take measures that will prevent the recurrence of plantar warts. Knowing the causes and risks of plantar warts helps reduce future re-infection.

Since the plantar warts causes, the HPVs, can only grow when they come in contact with the human skin, the best way to deal with them is to prevent such contact. Wearing clean foot ware when exposed to public areas or leaving the house can help reduce plantar wart virus contact. Public area means that complete strangers can share the same facilities and this includes the gym’s shower. Avoiding contact with the plantar warts causes also means refraining from touching any wart, including that itchy lump on the foot’s heel. Needless to say, plantar warts should not be pricked because this will only spread the HPV.

Medical and health professionals have found that the plantar warts risks include being exposed too often to the HPV, having wounds or cuts in the skin around the foot, and ending up with a weak immune system. Dealing with these multiple plantar wart risks involves multiple strategies. For example, to reduce exposure to the HPV, the foot must be kept clean and dry. Whenever it is exposed to a dirty, warm, and moist environment, the foot must be disinfected. To avoid skin cuts, a person must be extremely careful in his activities and the feet must wear some protection such as shoes. And to keep the immune system strong, a person must have a healthy diet, enough sleep, and enough exercise.

Although millions of people have experienced plantar warts, it does not mean that a person cannot completely avoid the plantar warts causes. If plantar wart risks are avoided, then this skin disease may never happen at all.

Understanding the Cause of Plantar Warts

Some people seemed to be very susceptible to plantar warts. The majority of these easy plantar warts victims are children and teenagers. Adults, who have weakened immune systems or who frequently use public showers and similar areas, are also prone to contracting plantar warts. From these observations about this skin disease, more knowledge about the plantar warts cause is being gained.

The most basic information about the plantar warts cause is that it is the human papillomavirus or HPV. As a typical virus, the HPV behaves in a way that made many scientists debate whether viruses are considered living things or non-living things. One group insists that viruses are living things because they grow and multiply.

The opposing group points out that these viruses have only one type of nucleic acid in its body whereas all living things have both types, the RNA and the DNA. At the same time, when the virus is not inside the body of the host, it is similar to specks of dust. Whether living or not, the debate is moot and academic because the HPV is definitely a pathogen. This means that viruses cause diseases such as plantar warts. Being exposed to toads is clearly not a plantar warts cause.

Unfortunately, there are more than a hundred strains of the HPV and all of them cause different kinds of warts. The group of HPVs that is composed of viruses that are considered plantar warts causes is called Verruca plantaris. An in-depth research study reported by Dr. Cooper of the Medical University of Ohio School of Medicine revealed that three different types of HPV, namely type 1, type 2, and type 4, are the actual plantar warts causes.

With the strains of HPV unmasked, it has been found that they tend to survive outside the human body when the environment is warm and has a lot of moisture. Such environments can be the locker room, the gym, the public shower, the area around the swimming pool, and even the inside of dirty and sweaty shoes. Therefore, to best avoid picking up the plantar warts causes, a person must wear flip flops or shoes whenever entering these environments. It is also suggested to keep the shoes and socks clean and dry. If this is impossible, a person must have several spare socks and maybe an extra pair of shoes.

As time goes by, there will be more information about the plantar warts causes. With additional knowledge, a more effective treatment could be formulated.

Plantar Warts: Risks

Populations that contract plantar warts may experience the following exposure:

1. HPV virus exposure multiple times.
2. Cracked, chapped, or damaged skin tissue on the feet.
3. Weak or stressed auto immune system.

Medical science does not completely understand the risk factors associated with contracting warts. Certain individuals are more susceptible to warts when exposed to the HPV virus just as some people are more likely to catch colds. Statistically, children and teenagers are more vulnerable to warts.

How to Reduce Plantar Wart Risks

To pinpoint the place where the cause of plantar warts was acquired is challenging and almost impossible. The plantar wart cause, which is the human papillomavirus or HPV, could have been picked up from anywhere. It could have been picked up from a public shower or from the area surrounding a public swimming pool. The HPV was able to hang on to the outer skin cells of the foot and eventually gets underneath the skin.

From there, the virus wreaks havoc by replicating and growing in numbers. The skin shows rough lumps with dark tiny dots that are the remains of dried up small blood vessels.  Plantar wart skin growths are not cancerous, but the lumps seemed inclined to form in areas where the foot takes in the heaviest weights. As a result, the lumps can become agonizingly painful. Therefore, the best approach in dealing plantar warts is to avoid them.

Since it is impossible to tell where the HPV are hiding, to avoid contracting plantar warts involves reducing the plantar wart risks. The less often an individual is exposed to areas where the HPV lurks, the lesser are the plantar warts risks. Here are specific ways on how to reduce plantar wart risks.

The skin is the body’s first defense against all kinds of diseases, including plantar warts. As long as there are no cuts and wounds in the skin, the millions of HPV are kept at bay. Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce plantar warts risk is to prevent acquiring cuts and wounds in the skin around the foot. If a skin cut is unavoidable, this should be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected.

However, there are cases when the skin around the foot may have cuts that are not noticeable. The next big step to avoid getting the HPV and reducing plantar wart risks is to always use footwear especially when walking around public places. Footwear is recommended even when an individual is simply taking a shower in the gym. Someone with plantar warts may have left some of his dead skin cells that contain the virus on the floors.

And lastly, the HPV can easily attack victims who have weak immune systems. The immune system is another natural defense of the body against illnesses. When it is weak and when the HPV gets in, the immune system does not work fast enough, leading to worsening plantar warts. Therefore, another important method of reducing plantar wart risks is to keep the immune system healthy and strong.

Plantar Warts: Medical Attention

Always seek medical advice if warts are excessively painful or change in appearance or color. See a physician if warts recur, persist, or multiply following home treatment or if warts interfere with daily activities. Individuals with diabetes or circulatory disorders should not attempt home treatment. Consult your physician if you are in doubt or concern.

If concerned over a correct diagnosis, consult your physician for a correct diagnosis. In addition to plantar warts, It is possible for more serious lesions to appear on feet. These growths are classified as cancerous tumors called carcinomas and melanomas. If in doubt over the proper identification and diagnosis of lumps or lesions consult a physician.

Plantar Warts: Diagnosis

Usually, physicians can visually diagnose plantar warts. However, in some cases, plantar warts can be confused with corns or calluses. Generally, a clear diagnosis can be achieved by determining if a “blood” supply exists to the lump or bump. This requires a physician to cut a small amount of tissue away to determine if a blood supply to the suspect wart is present. Corns and calluses do not have a blood supply and will not bleed. Plantar warts will show signs of bleeding from small pinpoint blood vessels.

If in doubt over a diagnosis, the physician can take a sample of the affected foot tissue and send it out for a laboratory analysis.

Plantar Warts: Complications

Plantar warts can be tough to eliminate. They regularly shed active virus cells on to the skin of the foot causing new warts to grow before they can always be removed. In some cases, new warts appear as fast as old ones disappear. The best course of action is to treat new warts quickly so they do not have time to spread.

Plantar warts, if untreated, can grow to an inch or more in size and can spread causing clusters of warts called & mosaic warts. Plantar warts may also become very painful. If painful groups of plantar warts develop it may be difficult to walk or run.

Plantar Warts: Treatment

Plantar warts may eventually disappear without treatment. However, if warts are painful they should be treated. There are home based natural and OTC (Over-the-Counter) treatments. Physicians use a variety of methods to treat warts. They include Cryotherapy, Salicylic Acid or Cantharidin. Following treatments, physicians will give instructions for self-care. Salicylic acid patches are applied daily with instruction to remove dead tissue with a nail file or pumice stone between treatments. It may take several weeks for the wart to completely disappear.

If OTC, home based remedies, or topical treatments are ineffective, your physician may recommend an office visit to remove it. The physician may use liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart and kill it. This avoids scarring or damaging surrounding tissues but may only kill the top portion of the wart. Following the initial treatment, if the wart reappears, the nitrogen freezing treatment must be repeated until the entire wart is completely killed. An alternate therapy requires the physician to cut out the wart. This surgical procedure requires topical anesthesia and may result in surrounding tissue scaring or damage.

Physicians may recommend any one of the following treatments or a combination of treatments:

Medicinal Remedies: Natural wart treatments and remedies. There are a number of natural topical treatments for plantar warts. However, many the natural products are not effective as advertised. Avoid natural home-based treatments or remedies that are not backed by research and testing.

Salicylic acid: Acid based wart medications and patches available OTC at drugstores. In order for plantar warts to be effective treated by salicylic acid a solution of 40 percent or greater is required. Common OTC salicylic acid solution or patch products include Curad Mediplast, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away Plantar, and other brands. Acid based treatments cause the skin to peel a small amount at a time. Acid solutions need to be applied regularly as much as once or twice each day. Care should be given not to contact acids with healthy skin, as it can become irritated from the acid. Between applications remove dead skin and wart tissue with a pumice stone or emery board. As acid treatments are slow, the process will need to be repeated for three or four weeks to completely kill plantar warts.

Freezing (cryotherapy): Freezing is considered one of the more effective treatments for most common treatments for plantar warts. Freezing warts kills both good and infected skin tissue from very cold temperatures. As a result, this form of treatment is not relatively painless and fast. Although considered very effective, multiple treatments may be required to kill persistent warts as freezing warts typically only kills the top of the wart. This may result in multiple trips to the doctor’s office every two to four weeks. Physicians can apply liquid nitrogen by spray or cotton-tipped applicator. Blistering will result around the wart and dead tissue will begin to peel in 1 to 2 weeks. Cryotherapy may now be done at home. Liquid Nitrogen is now available OTC in pressure charged canisters at drug stores.

Cantharidin: Cantharidin is a caustic chemical substance extracted from the blister beetle. Both doctors and natural healers have used Cantharidin to treat warts for centuries. This therapy is can be combined with salicylic acid to increase treatment effectiveness. Physicians paint Cantharidin on the wart and cover it with a dressing. This treatment is painless and allows physicians to gradually trim dead tissue away from blistered areas. However, like the Salicylic acid treatment, the application process may require multiple treatments to kill underlying tissue. Some physicians may be reluctant to use Cantharidin as it has not been approved by the FDA.

Plantar Warts: Medical Treatments

Resistant warts that do not respond well common treatments may require more aggressive treatment options:

Minor surgery: Minor surgery typically consists of cutting or removing the wart surgically. This requires use of either a scalpel or electric needle called electrodesiccation. The electric needle destroys the wart by burning or carderizing the wart. Both surgical techniques require topical anesthesia and risk scaring. Both procedures are considered painful.

Laser surgery: Physicians may also use lasers to eliminate tough warts. However, laser surgery is painful, expensive, and may take longer to heal than other less invasive treatments.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s natural auto immune system to fight and kill tough-to-treat warts. Physicians use several immunotherapy treatments for planter warts. Physicians may elect to inject the wart with interferon medication to boost the auto immune system’s instinct to fight warts or the doctor may inject your warts with a foreign antigen substance that stimulates the auto immune system. Physicians often use mump antigens as many people are immunized against mumps. This causes the mumps antigen to set off an auto immune reaction that fight off warts.

Imiquimod (Aldara): Imiquidmod is a prescription immunotherapy medication that stimulates the body to release immune system proteins called cytokines to fight off warts. This medication may be applied directly on warts. Imiquimod is FDA approved for the treatment of genital and perianal warts. However, it is also effective in treating common warts and plantar warts.

Other medications: In severe plantar wart cases the doctor may elect to inject each wart with a medication called bleomycin that kills the virus. This medication is administered systemically in high doses. Individual wart injections can be painful and may cause rashes or itching. Bleomycin has not been approved by the FDA and is not intended for use if pregnant, breast-feeding or if circulation problems exist.
Experimental treatment:

Duct tape: Researchers published a study in 2002 that found duct tape killed more warts than cryotherapy freezing. Study members who used duct tape therapy covered their warts with duct tape for six days, then soaked their warts in water and rubbed the warts with an emery board or pumice stone. This process was repeated for two months or until their warts went away. Researchers believe that duck tape therapy may work by irritating warts and the surrounding skin tissue causing the body’s immune system to kick in and kill warts. Duct tape is growing in popularity and is commonly used to treat warts, particularly in children who are sensitive to painful therapies.

Conventional Plantar Warts Treatment

Plantar warts, which are caused by a strain of the human papillomavirus that attacks the balls of the feet, may fade away in due course as the person’s immune system kicks in to defeat the virus. There is no need for a plantar warts treatment. But plantar warts are irritating and may even cause excruciating pain. Instead of waiting for the plantar warts to go away which can take more than two years, many people find it useful to help the body by using a plantar wart treatment. Some of the conventional plantar warts treatments are salicylic acid, duct tape, and cryotherapy.

Salicylic acid is the most accessible plantar warts treatment. Pharmacies display different formulations of plantar warts treatments that contain salicylic acid as the active ingredient. The salicylic acid works by entering the skin tissues, reaching the warts, cutting off the blood supply, and drying up the wart tissues. Salicylic acid is topically applied two times a day on the affected areas until the warts appear like dead skin. This may take a couple of months. The dead skin is then removed by paring it away using an emery board.

Another plantar warts treatment is known as cryotherapy. It involves freezing the plantar warts using liquid nitrogen inside a canister equipped with a spray or applicator. This liquid nitrogen disables the virus and freezes the small blood vessels inside the warts. A blister is formed and the lifeless tissues eventually fall off. Cryotherapy is conducted only by a doctor and the process may involve several trips to the doctor’s clinic for a few weeks. Cryotherapy is relatively effective but there is one downside to this plantar warts treatment. It can sometimes produce unbearable pain. For children with plantar warts, cryotherapy may not be an option.

And still another conventional plantar warts treatment is known as occlusion therapy using the duct tape. The duct tape seems to be an unlikely plantar warts treatment but a research study conducted in 2002 revealed that duct tape is as effective as cryotherapy. The method is quite simple. The plantar warts are covered with duct tape for about six days. On the sixth day, the feet are soaked in water to soften the warts enough so that they can be easily removed by an emery board. The use of duct tape may need to be repeated for a couple of months to completely overcome the plantar warts.

When a person is affected with plantar warts, he or she must remember that it is not a severe skin disease. There are numerous conventional methods of overcoming it.

Plantar Warts: Prevention

To prevent and lower the risk of contracting plantar warts:

1. Avoid coming in direct contact with warts on yourself and others.
2. Change socks regularly, keep shoes and feet dry and clean.
3. Avoid going bear-foot in public areas. Wear shoes or sandals in public pools and locker rooms.
4. Do not scratch or pick at warts as this can spread the virus.

Other Types of Warts: