In any medical field, there are bound to be certain conditions that are more common than others. Plantar warts is one of those conditions that most people experience at some point. They are generally harmless, but there are certainly reasons why you do not want to ignore these viral growths.
Viral Infections and Plantar Warts
Warts are caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has over 100 strains. The vast majority do not cause warts on your feet. You might not develop a wart even when your outer layer of skin comes in contact with the virus, because everyone’s immune system has different reactions to HPV. One person could end up with plantar warts and the next person might not.
Unlike certain other viruses, transmission of HPV does not have to occur from direct contact for an individual to become infected. Accordingly, a common means of infection is simply walking barefoot in warm, damp environments that are hospitable to the virus.
Whereas direct contact is not necessary, it can still be a means of transmission for the virus. Coming into contact with someone else’s wart—like when a parent attends to a wart on his or her child—may result in one growing on your own skin.
Plantar Warts Can Lead to Complications
These growths are often benign, but they can lead to complications. When you have a wart that causes pain or discomfort when you walk, you might alter your natural gait, which could create issues for your joints or muscles. Also, these growths can be problematic for those who live with diabetes. If you have this disease, you should inspect your feet daily for any abnormalities and contact our office immediately if you find a plantar wart. The last thing you want is for this to lead to a serious complication.
Treatment for Plantar Warts
The first thing that needs to be addressed is that we do not recommend attempting to handle the condition on your own. You can find over-the-counter wart removal kits at retail stores and nationwide pharmacies, but they are rarely effective and pose the risk of sustaining damage to your healthy skin around the affected area. If you live with diabetes, it is especially important that you do not attempt risky home remedies.
Plantar warts will normally clear up on their own, without treatment, but this might take as long as a couple of years. If they are causing you pain and discomfort, or even making you self-conscious, there is no need to wait it out. Depending on your particular case, we may prescribe prescription-strength ointments and medications to clear up the offensive growths. If any other treatment is necessary, we will discuss every step of the process with you.
Tips to Prevent Plantar Warts
Warts are quite common—most people develop at least one wart at some point during the course of their lives—but certain steps can help to make it less likely for you. These steps include:
- Wear shower shoes or sandals in public areas like gym locker rooms and pool decks. These environments have the damp, warm conditions that enable viruses to thrive, so HPV is commonly found there.
- Do not come into direct contact with warts, whether someone else’s or your own. In the event that you do, thoroughly wash the affected location and your hands immediately afterwards. Also, picking at a wart can lead to spreading the virus, so avoid this as well.
- Changing your shoes and socks on a daily basis, along with maintaining clean, dry feet, will help you avoid viral (and fungal) infections.
The best prevention practices in the world will not completely guarantee that you do not develop plantar warts. When you do, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., to receive the treatment you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338, or use our online form to request an appointment today.