Bone & Joint

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Plantar Warts

What are plantar warts?

"Plantar" refers to the sole of the foot, and plantar warts are simply warts that grow on the bottom of the feet.

What are the varieties of plantar warts?

Plantar warts tend to occur on the heels or the balls of the feet, which take the most pressure from standing and walking.

What are the causes of plantar warts?

Like warts found elsewhere on the body, planter warts are growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). You can pick up the HPV that causes planter warts anywhere, but you are most likely to come into contact with it in warm, moist places such as shower floors, locker rooms and public swimming pools.

Who is likely to get plantar warts?

You are most susceptible to HPV if you’re repeatedly exposed to the virus, if your skin is cut or damaged, or if your immune system is weakened.

How can plantar warts be prevented?

Wear shower thongs or sandals when you use a public locker room or shower. Use foot powders and change your socks often to keep the feet dry.

What are the symptoms and how are plantar warts diagnosed?

A planter wart can look like a small, fleshy bump; a hard, flat growth with a rough surface and well-defined boundaries; or a gray or brown lump with tiny pinprick-size black dots (clotted blood vessels that distinguish warts from bloodless corns and calluses). The growths interrupt the normal lines and ridges in the skin.

What is the conventional planter wart treatment?

You do not really have to do anything about plantar warts. Most will disappear on their own sooner or later. But if yours are causing discomfort, a number of planter wart treatments are available. You can buy over-the-counter treatments containing a 40 percent salicylic acid solution that you apply once or twice a day for a few weeks. Another planter wart treatment option is the "duct tape treatment" – you cover the warts with duct tape for six days then soak them in water and rub them gently with an emery board or pumice stone. You may have to repeat the process over the course of a month or two before the warts disappear, but a study published in the October 2002 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that the duct tape method worked better than having a doctor freeze the warts off with liquid nitrogen, which can be painful and cause scarring.

What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for plantar warts?

Try removing warts with visualization: Spend a few minutes a day picturing the growths shrinking. If you need help coming up with images, you can listen to audiotapes made by practitioners skilled in guided imagery and clinical hypnosis. It may be most effective to do this when waking and falling asleep. Children are especially good at it. Their vivid imaginations can conjure up all kinds of magical methods of wart removal. This mind-over-matter method can work remarkably well, so try it first, before resorting to acids, duct tape, lasers, or surgery.