What are plantar warts?
Plantar warts are small bumps that are located in the first two layers of the skin, epidermis and dermis, and appear on the heels and weight-bearing areas of the foot.
There are two types of plantar warts:
- Solitary warts: single wart that increases in size and, occasionally, may form another set of warts around it.
- Mosaic warts are small warts that grow side by side. This type of wart is more difficult to treat.
It is a very common viral infection in the population, but few people suffer from the pain.
What are the causes of plantar warts?
The main cause of plantar warts is the human papillomavirus. This virus enters the body through small cuts, cracks or other weak spots on the bottom of the foot.
Other common causes are:
- Contagion or transmission.
- Use of public showers in swimming pools, gyms or baths.
- Alterations in the skin of the feet.
- Cuts or grazes.
Most plantar warts are not serious health problems and usually disappear without treatment over time.
What is the treatment?
Most plantar warts disappear over time and are harmless. However, when they cause discomfort, it is preferable to treat them. Some of the most commonly used treatments to combat plantar warts are:
- Salicylic acid: these are prescription salicylic acid medications that work by removing the layers of a wart little by little.
- Cryotherapy: this treatment is performed in the doctor’s office and involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the wart using a spray or swab. The chemical causes a blister to form around the wart and the dead tissue eventually falls off. In some cases it is possible to repeat the treatment even for two or three weeks.
When none of the above methods work, it is advisable to resort to one of these other methods:
- Other acids. After shaving the surface of the wart, trichloroacetic acid is applied. As side effects may appear stinging and burning.
- Stimulation of the immune system. This method uses drugs to stimulate the immune system to fight warts.
- Laser treatment. This treatment burns the small blood vessels closed and eventually the tissue dies and the wart falls off. This technique can leave scars and must be repeated for three to four weeks.
In any case, it is advisable to consult a physician to assess the condition of the wart and determine which treatment is best suited to the patient’s characteristics and needs.
How can they be prevented?
To reduce the chances of plantar warts proliferating, the following health tips should be followed:
- Watch your step. It is easy to get HPV, especially in warm places where there is moisture, such as common showers, locker rooms or swimming pools.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. It is important to clean and dry well between toes and avoid sharing shoes and towels.
- Take care of foot wounds. Cracks and small lesions in the skin are the way of entry of the virus.
- Self-contagion. If we touch a wart, it is essential to wash our hands thoroughly to avoid spreading the virus to other parts of the body.
What specialist treats it?
The specialist who performs the diagnosis and subsequent treatment is the dermatologist, since this is the medical specialty in charge of the study of the structure and function of the skin, as well as the diseases that affect it.