An effective plantar warts treatment will put the spring back into your step and eliminate that pesky, often painful condition that afflicts millions of people.
What are Plantar Warts?
Maybe you've heard the term but aren't quite familiar with what they are. If that's the case, consider yourself fortunate! Plantar warts are a common skin infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus itself enters the body through small nicks or breaks in the skin. It's important to note that these warts are not cancerous. In fact, they're considered the most common skin infection of all. They grow on the bottom surface of the foot, known as the plantar, and they tend to afflict common pressure points, such as the heel and ball of the foot.
With every step you take, you risk the wart growing deeper into the skin and causing even greater irritation and discomfort. For this reason, it's important to learn about the various plantar warts treatment options available today. If you ever do happen to find yourself dealing with this uncomfortable problem, you can nip it in the bud before it gets worse!
Chances are you'll recognize the sudden appearance of something fleshy, bumpy and possibly painful on the sole of your foot. In order to distinguish a potential wart from other common ailments, like calluses and corns, look for these telltale signs:
- The wart is small and grainy.
- It has a rough surface and boundaries that are well-defined and don't migrate.
- It may be dark in color (brown or gray, for example) and speckled with small black dots, which are actually clotted blood vessels.
Plantar Warts Treatment Options
Not surprisingly, there are several types of treatments that aim to eradicate plantar warts and ease your discomfort. Many are administered specifically by doctors, while others are over-the-counter and home remedies that have been relied on for decades. Read on to learn about the various options, what each entails and which one is most appropriate for you.
Depending on the severity of the warts, doctors will opt for one of several different types of methods.
- Cryotherapy: One of the most common treatments for this type of wart, cryotherapy involves applying liquid nitrogen to the infected skin. A blister forms around the wart, and within a week or two, the dead skin sloughs off. Though this is a highly effective method of removal, note that multiple treatments may be required for permanent results. Children typically do not receive this treatment, as the sensation of liquid nitrogen can be quite painful.
- Cantharidin: This substance is extracted from a blister beetle, painted on the wart and covered with clear tape. The skin then blisters, forcing the wart off the skin. The doctor then snips away the dead part of the wart several days later. Despite being recognized as an effective treatment of plantar warts for centuries, cantharidin is not typically the first line of defense against them. That's because it's not approved by the FDA, so many doctors simply do not use the treatment at all.
- Surgery: Of course, surgery is a last resort for most minor conditions. If your warts do not respond to common treatments, your doctor may recommend laser surgery as an alternative. Minor surgery, which involves a process called electrodesiccation and curettage, destroys the wart with an electric needle.
A visit to your local drugstore will yield several options that you may wish to try as soon as you discover the wart's presence.
- Salicylic Acid: Over-the-counter treatments contain at least 40 percent salicylic acid, which is responsible for slowly peeling off the infected skin. It can take weeks and sometimes even months to see results, so patience is imperative. Dr. Scholl's Clear Away is one such remedy. The discs are cushioned for comfort.
- Duct Tape: Yes, you read that right: duct tape. This basic household item is recognized for its unexpected ability to clear up warts. The duct tape is applied over the wart for a period of six days. Then the wart is soaked in water and gently scrubbed with an emery board. The process can be repeated for a couple of months, or until the wart eventually disappears. A study in 2002 actually found that the duct tape method was more effective than cryotherapy!
And Once They're Gone…
Exercise great caution once you've finally gotten rid of the problem. Recurrence is not uncommon, so the better care you take to keep the area clean and disinfected, the better chance you have of avoiding warts in the future. Remember to:
- Keep your feet dry and extra clean.
- Change your socks daily.
- Avoid going barefoot in public areas. This is especially important during the summer, when more time is spent at public pools. Wear sandals to keep your soles covered.
- Don't touch your warts or pick at them. This can easily encourage spreading.
- At the first sign of a plantar wart, seek treatment. As it grows, it can become much more painful!