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Plantar Warts: Identify, Treat, and Prevent


There are over 100 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the cause of warts in humans. You may have heard of sexually transmitted HPV, but this virus also passes from non-genital areas and affects broken areas of your skin. These infections turn into warts, which are little raised or flat bumps that appear on different regions of your skin.

One type of wart caused by HPV infection is the plantar wart. Plantar warts appear on the foot and affect over 3 million individuals each year. They are flat and generally appear on the soles of your feet.

What’s more, many people experience discomfort, or even excruciating pain, from walking on plantar warts. These warts develop calluses, making them like thick bumps under your feet. The good news is there are ways to treat and prevent the development of plantar warts.

Ready to find out how to get rid of your painful plantar warts and how to prevent more from popping up in the future? Check out this guide on everything you need to know about plantar warts.

How to Know if You Have Plantar Warts

The most obvious way to know if you have plantar warts is to look. Plantar warts tend to be flat, especially since they typically appear on the soles of your feet. Repeatedly bearing weight down on a plantar wart flattens it and also gives it its characteristic calloused appearance.

Another symptom of plantar warts is pain while walking.

If you suspect you may have a plantar wart, it’s time to see your podiatrist. This is especially true if your warts are spreading or causing you serious discomfort or pain. Your doctor will determine if you have plantar warts, and if so, how to go about treating them.

How to Get Rid of Plantar Warts

Once a doctor diagnoses you with a case of plantar warts, you’ll have a few options for treatment:

  • Waiting for the plantar wart to go away naturally
  • Chemically burning or freezing off your wart
  • Cutting out the wart
  • Treating the wart with topical medicines
  • Lazer-ing off the veins that feed the wart

The most common treatments for plantar warts, though, are cutting or freezing off the wart and treating it with topical medications.

If your foot doctor decides to freeze your wart, he or she will likely use the liquid nitrogen method. This method applies cold liquid nitrogen to the wart for prolonged periods. That way, the cells that make up the wart slowly die off, causing the wart to decrease in size.

The topical method typically utilizes a salicylic acid cream or ointment. You’ll rub the cream onto the infected area. The great thing about this treatment is that you can do it at home.

2011 study suggests that liquid nitrogen treatment is no more effective than treating your plantar warts with over-the-counter salicylic acid at home.

However, keep in mind that your podiatrist will have access to stronger salicylic acid treatments than you can get at your local superstore. Additionally, combined treatments of both topical and cutting or freezing off warts are often more effective than what you can do at home.

All the aforementioned treatments do have one setback: they require a long-term application. A typical case of plantar warts takes multiple treatments that last several weeks. Keep that timeline in mind when you decide to schedule your plantar wart treatment.

The good news is that plantar warts are highly treatable. You don’t have to worry about an uncertain prognosis when you head in for your first treatment because your local podiatrist can help with even the worst case of plantar warts. Even better, HPV-caused warts are also preventable.

How to Prevent Plantar Warts

Once you’ve treated one case of plantar warts, odds are you aren’t going to want to experience them again. That’s why it’s extremely important to learn how to prevent future outbreaks.

The wart-causing virus, HPV, lives in warm, damp environments. If you spend a lot of time at a local pool or in a shared locker room, you may have stepped in HPV-infested water. All it takes is a small cut or scratch on your skin to pick up the virus and develop a plantar wart.

With those facts in mind, here are the most common ways to prevent contracting a case of plantar warts:

  • Always wear shoes in public bathrooms, locker rooms, and pools
  • Consult your physician about the HPV vaccine, which has some evidence of preventing warts
  • Keep wounds covered with bandages or wraps to avoid infecting cuts and scratches with HPV

If you already have a small case of plantar warts, take extra precautions to assure you aren’t spreading the virus both to other people and to other parts of your body. Change your shoes and socks regularly to avoid exacerbating your plantar warts, and always remember to wash your hands regularly to avoid spreading wart-causing HPV to people you come in contact with.

Treat Your Plantar Warts Today

Do you think you may be suffering from a case of plantar warts? Have you been dealing with the pain and discomfort for a while? Are you ready to deal with those pesky bumps so that you can get back to your normal way of life?

That’s where podiatry practice in New Jersey comes in. Dr. Velimir Petkov has years of experience helping patients like you live your best life.

Contact us in Clifton, NJ or Wayne, NJ to book an appointment online to find out what it’s like to live without warts on your feet.

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