If you’ve ever had a small growth or bump on the bottom of your foot, you are no stranger to plantar warts. Also known as verrucae warts, these warts are caused by human papillomavirus.
This virus enters the body through tiny cuts and breaks on the bottom of the feet and can be quite painful and irritating.
Plantar warts can spread from one part of the body to the other and from one person to the other quickly. So, one must treat them as soon as possible.
Luckily these warts can be handled easily, and there are many home remedies for getting rid of them.
What are plantar warts?
Plantar warts are benign epithelial tumors that appear on the soles and heels of the feet. These warts occur mostly in children, adolescents, the elderly and people who have a weak immune system.
There are two types of plantar warts –
A solitary wart is a single wart. It may over time increase in size or multiply and form satellite warts.
Mosaic warts are a cluster of warts growing closely together. They tend to grow slowly and can sink into the skin and cause discomfort. They are more challenging to treat than solitary warts.
Causes and prevention
Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus enters the body through tiny cuts or breaks at the bottom of the feet. HPV type 1, 2, 4, 60 and 63 generally cause these warts. In some cases, it can also be caused by type 57, 65, 66 and 156.
These warts can spread from another part of your body to the foot. You can also get these warts from touching someone else’s warts or from an infected surface like a communal shower or blanket or a towel used by someone who has warts.
Warts can also bleed, which can cause them to spread further. void direct contact with warts to reduce your risk of infection. Do not touch you own warts as this may cause warts on your fingers.
Keep your feet clean and dry and change your socks and shoes every day. Always use footwear when you are walking around in public swimming pools and locker rooms.
You must never use pumice stone of emery boards on wart-infected areas.
Symptoms of plantar warts
Identifying a wart is easy. Here are some of the common symptoms of plantar warts –
- Pain and tenderness while walking or standing
- A small fleshy grainy growth on the bottom of the foot, usually at the base of the toes or the heel
- Thickened skin over the spot where the wart has grown inwards
- A dark spot in the middle usually caused by clotted blood vessels
- A lesion that interrupts the regular ridges and lines in the skin of the foot
Plantar warts are quite similar to calluses. However, it is easy to differentiate between them. If it hurts when you press down straight on it, it is a callus. On the other hand, a wart will hurt only when you squeeze it.
Who are at a higher risk?
Technically anyone can develop plantar warts, but people who are at higher risk include –
- Children and teenagers
- People with a weakened immune system
- Individuals who have had plantar warts before
- People who walk barefoot where exposure to plantar warts is common like locker rooms, communal showering areas, and indoor pool decks
When to visit a doctor?
There are many home remedies for treating warts, but you must see a doctor if –
- If you have tried treating the wart yourself, but it has returned or multiplied
- The wart starts bleeding, or it changes color
- If the pain and discomfort from the wart interfere with your daily activities
- If you have diabetes
- If you have a weak immune system or are taking immune-suppressing drugs
How do doctors diagnose plantar warts?
Doctors are usually able to diagnose plantar warts by observing them. If they are unsure, they may send a tissue sample to a pathologist.
How to treat a plantar wart?
Plantar warts can sometimes go away on their own, but this can take some time. Since these warts can be painful and can make it difficult to walk, people generally want to get rid of them fast.
Once your healthcare provider diagnoses the plantar wart, he will offer you various treatment options. These include over the counter medicines, salicylic acid, cryotherapy(freezing) or surgery.
1. Salicylic acid treatment
The doctor prescribes a prescription-strength wart lotion or cream that contains salicylic acid. When applied regularly, this cream removes layers of the wart a little bit at a time. Sometimes they also use salicylic acid along with cryotherapy for faster results.
Some doctors prefer to shave the surface of the wart and apply bichloracetic acid or trichloroacetic acid. This treatment requires weekly visits to the doctor. The doctors usually recommend topical application of salicylic acid between visits.
During this treatment, the doctor destroys the wart by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. The doctor may shave off the dead skin on the wart before cryotherapy.
Then the doctor will use a swab or a spray to apply liquid nitrogen on the wart and the area around it. The skin may feel numb and then forms a blister.
When the blister peels off, the wart also peels off with it. The doctor may recommend applying salicylic acid after the area heals.
If plantar warts are resistant to treatment, you may be referred to a dermatologist for immunotherapy. Immunotherapy creates an immune response to foreign substances.
The doctor may apply dinitrochlorobenzene to the warts of patients sensitized to it. He may also inject these warts with an antigen.
5. Laser treatment
During this new treatment, doctors use lasers to destroy the wart. This procedure is expensive and is likely to leave a scar. Its efficacy is also limited.
6. Curettage and desiccation
After injecting a local anesthetic, an electric needle is used to cut the wart. This technique is likely to cause a scar, and the wart can return in the scar tissue.
Home remedies for plantar warts
In most cases, warts go away on their own within months leaving no scars. Our immune system fights warts and gets rid of them.
However, this may take some time and patience. If your warts are painful and annoying, you can opt for some natural remedies to get rid of them faster.
1. Peeling patches or medicine
Many non-prescription wart removal products like patches and liquid are available. To use these, wash the area and then soak it in warm water.
Then with the help of a pumice stone remove the top layer of the skin. When the skin has dried, apply the liquid or the patch. You may need to use these for weeks or even months to see the results.
2. Duct tape
Cover the wart with duct tape for a week. Then remove it and soak the area in warm water and rub it. After 12 hours without the tape, put it on again and repeat the process. This cycle has to continue for two months.
Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and place it on the wart. Keep it in place with the help of a bandage or duct tape. Leave it on for a few days and let the acid do its work.
Zinc helps in fighting the virus that causes warts. So you can take zinc pills or apply zinc ointment on warts.
This Chinese remedy for warts uses smoke from the leaves of Poplar tree to cure warts. For this remedy dry out leaves of the Populus euphratica tree.
Light them on fire and let them burn out. When they burn out, place your foot near the smoke for at least 15 minutes.
6. Silver nitrate
Silver nitrate solution or cream can be applied topically to the wart.
7. Immunity-boosting foods
Foods that boost immunity also help in getting rid of warts. Foods rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries help boost immunity.
Grass-fed beef, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which is critical for the immune system.
Probiotic foods like yogurt and kimchi help fight off infections. Green leafy vegetables provide vitamin A which is essential for the immune function.
Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus enters the body through tiny cuts and breaks on the bottom of the feet and can be quite painful and irritating.
Often they go away on their own for months. There are also many natural home remedies to treat plantar warts. However, if the wart becomes painful and uncomfortable and starts interfering in your daily activities, you can get it removed by a doctor.
The doctors generally use salicylic acid treatments, cryotherapy, laser therapy and minor surgery to treat plantar warts. To prevent these warts and avoid their reoccurrence you must eat healthy food to boost your immunity.