Learning about plantar warts (Verruca Plantaris)
What is a Plantar Wart?
A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. As we get closer to the summer and start to walk barefoot, warts are more prevalent. Despite what you may have heard, plantar warts are not caused by kissing frogs. (At least on your feet) Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children then adolescents and the elderly. Summer tends to be the season when they come out due to increased barefoot walking.
There are two types of plantar warts. A solitary wart is a single wart. It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional “satellite” warts. Mosaic warts are a cluster of several small warts growing closely together in one area. They are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
The signs and symptoms of a plantar wart may include thickened skin. Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue. Pain is also a hallmark of a plantar wart. It usually hurts during walking and standing, and there is pain when the sides of the wart are squeezed. One could also find tiny black dots. These often appear on the surface of the wart. The dots are dried blood contained in the infected capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
Plantar warts grow deep into the skin. Usually this growth occurs slowly—the wart starts off small and gets larger over time.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose a plantar wart, the doctor will examine the patient’s foot and look for signs and symptoms of a wart.
Although plantar warts may eventually clear up on their own, most patients desire faster relief. The goal of treatment is to completely remove the wart.
The doctor may use topical or laser therapy to treat the wart. For less downtime, the laser treatment works best. Regardless of the treatment approaches undertaken, it is important that the patient follow the surgeon’s instructions, including all home care and medication that has been prescribed, as well as follow-up visits with the surgeon. Warts may return, requiring further treatment.
If there is no response to treatment, further diagnostic evaluation may be necessary. In such cases, the surgeon can perform a biopsy to rule out other potential causes for the growth.
Although there are many folk remedies for warts, patients should be aware that these remain unproven and may be dangerous. Patients should never try to remove a wart themselves—this can do more harm than good.
David Weiss, DPM, is the owner of Weiss Foot & Ankle Center located at 777 South White Horse Pike, Suite D1 in Hammonton. For more information or to make an appointment, call 561-2488 or visit weissfootandankle.com.