Plantar warts grow on the side or sole of the foot. Like other types of warts, plantar warts are caused by a viral infection. The virus enters the foot through a tiny opening or scrape in the skin or through a blister, and once “inside,” it begins to grow and multiply, forming a visible “lump” on the surface of the skin. The roots—or base—of the virus are located in deeper tissues of the foot; in fact, the fleshy visible portion is really just a very small part of the entire wart structure.
You can catch the virus that causes warts by walking barefoot in areas that are damp and moist, like public locker rooms and gym showers, or by wearing shoes or socks that belong to someone who has plantar warts. Although anyone can develop plantar warts, they tend to be more common among people who have:
Plantar warts form visible bumps or lumps on the surface of the foot, and most people with warts have a lot of discomfort when pressure is applied to the area or when wearing shoes.
While warts that form on other parts of the body can be excised (surgically cut out of your skin), using the same technique on a plantar wart tends to leave fibrous scar tissue, which can wind up causing other problems, including continuing pain. Instead, Dr. Lamour usually treats plantar warts with a prescription-strength topical medication that’s designed to penetrate to the deeper layers of tissue where the wart is “rooted.” A special technique called debridement also can be used to remove damaged tissue and prevent scar formation. Dr. LaMour will examine your foot carefully to determine which approach is best for you.
No. Over-the-counter medications may remove the upper part of the wart—the part you can see—but these medications are not strong enough to reach the deeper layers of tissue and destroy the virus at its roots. That means the virus will be left to replicate and form new warts, either at the same location or in other areas. Plus, over-the-counter products can cause scars or burns that may lead to infections and other problems. Having medical treatment is a safer and more effective way to eliminate plantar warts permanently.
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