Do you have what you think is a wart on your foot? If so, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. Is it a wart? How did I get this? How can I treat it? Will it go away? Ten years ago, I had my own personal bout with plantar warts. Having had plantar warts, a little information can help alleviate the fears and frustrations. Hopefully, the following answers will give you the information necessary to make an informed decision on treatment options that are available prior to visiting the doctor’s office.
What is a Plantar Wart?
Warts are easily recognized elsewhere on the body, but they can be tricky on the bottom of the foot because they grow into the skin and not out of it, so they don’t have the classic look. A plantar wart is a thick, hard patch of skin, often with dark spots within it, that is usually found in areas of pressure: the ball of the foot, or the heel. Often painful, these skin lesions can grow as large as 5cm across, grow in large patches, but are usually the size of a pencil eraser.
What Causes a Wart? Is it contagious?
Warts are caused by a type of human papillomavirus or HPV. Yet, those strains of HPV that cause warts, are usually not contagious from direct skin to skin contact. This virus can be contracted by walking barefoot in locker rooms, or around swimming pools because the virus that causes plantar warts thrives in environments that are warm and moist.
It can take up to 2 months to treat a wart. Without treatment, some warts go away within 6 months yet it may last up to two years. Yet, even with treatment, warts can grow back, or may not completely go away.
One way to help alleviate the pressure pain from a wart is a doughnut bandage, as demonstrated here.
Although, I wouldn’t recommend this long road option, if you have a fear of doctors and medicine, this might be your way to go.
When Should You See the Doctor?
Below, I will explain what you should try prior to going to the doctor. The following are reasons that you should go to the doctor first:
• If you are diabetic, have an immune deficiency (HIV/AIDS) – Do not try and treat warts at home!
• If you have bleeding or signs of infection (pus or redness around the wart)
• If the wart is painful
• If the wart changes color
Before going to the doctor:
Prior to going to the doctor, you can try these three at-home remedies:
1. Duct Tape. Yes, Duct tape! This makes the Eagle Scout in my very happy! I had a wart on my arm that I treated this way and it worked! As with many wart treatments this can take a couple of weeks to fully work. Go to your local hardware store, get the gray duct tape. Soak your foot for five minutes in warm water to soften the callus that covers the area. Then, using an emery board, file down the callus. Apply the duct tape and press it on to get a good seal. Do your best to keep the duct tape on the area for 6 days. Then, repeat the emery board to file it down. Keep the area exposed for 12 hours prior to reapplication of the duct tape, if needed. Throw away the emery board after each use
2. Salicylic Acid. This acid is the main ingredient in most, over-the-counter wart medications. Either place the pad on the area, or apply the liquid on the area, following the instructions on the packaging. This will take several applications to have the wart peel off. You will need to be consistent with this option.
3. Cryotherapy. This may be the third and final home-remedy option prior to a visit to the doctors office. Many doctors offices have liquid nitrogen to freeze off a wart. Similar “cryotherapy” or freezing therapy options can be purchased at the pharmacy. These medications work by causing a blister, after which the wart will fall off.
If you’ve able to treat the wart and it goes away with these treatments, fantastic! If, after two months, you fail to notice good results, consider consulting your podiatrist.