Plantar Warts

Plantar warts may not be the most medically serious condition you could contract. But one thing is for sure: they are extremely frustrating.

In addition to producing unsightly skin growths, foot warts can be uncomfortable or painful, can easily multiply and spread (to other areas of your body, or even to your housemates), and may take months or even years to go away on their own.

If you do develop what looks like warts on your feet, it’s best you get them checked out and treated before they have a chance to replicate. And fortunately, we have a great new treatment available that can get results much more safely, comfortably, and conveniently than ever before!

More on that later. First, let’s talk about the warts themselves.

Plantar Warts Graphic

What Is a Plantar Wart?

When it comes to warts, you probably know one when you see it. But in order to truly understand what’s going on, it helps to have a few more details.

Warts are grainy, fleshy, hardened bits of raised skin. If you look closely you may notice that the wart “disrupts” the natural lines and ridges of your skin, and you may even spot one or more tiny black or dark red pinpoints within the lesion. (These are clotted blood vessels.) Pressing on the sides of the wart may cause pain.

A plantar wart is simply a wart that develops on the bottom of the feet (the plantar surface), most often under the weight-bearing areas of the foot (heels, forefoot) or on toes.

They are caused by a viral infection in the upper layers of skin, by one or more strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 strains of HPV, although not all of them cause warts, and not every person’s immune system reacts to each strain in the exact same way.

How Did I Get Warts?

You didn’t necessarily do anything wrong! There’s no need to feel embarrassed.

As we said, the virus resides only in the outer layers of skin, and it doesn’t need much of an opening to get inside. Cuts and scratches are obvious entry points, but sometimes the breaks in the skin are so minor that you wouldn’t even really be able to see or feel them anyway.

That said, there are some potential risk factors to watch out for (or at least be aware of).

  • Walking barefoot. Especially in public or shared spaces that are hot and humid, like locker rooms and pool decks.
  • Damp footwear. HPV loves to congregate in damp, sweaty shoes and socks. Make sure you swap out damp footwear and let shoes dry completely before putting them on again.
  • Age. Both children (including teenagers) and older adults are more susceptible due to having less robust immune systems (generally speaking) than young and middle-aged adults.
  • Certain conditions. Conditions or treatments that lead to weakened immune systems, such as diabetes or taking immunosuppressive medications, can increase your risk of developing warts.

Why Are Warts So Stubborn?

Some warts do, eventually, go away on their own. However, most of the time it takes months or years—and in that time, they may multiply and spread.

A big part of the issue is that, by remaining in the top layers of skin, the viral infection is mostly content to remain in an area that the body’s immune system doesn’t patrol as carefully. In essence, your wart can remain “hidden” to the immune system, which can take a very long time to identify and eradicate it.

This combination of slow natural healing time and the risk of spreading is why we generally recommend you get your warts treated as soon as possible. Plus, most people just want their clear, healthy skin back!

(Oh, and a word about home wart treatment kits and “home remedies”: don’t bother. The odds of success are very, very low and they tend to be a huge waste of money.)

Plantar Wart Treatment Options

There are, broadly speaking, two categories of treatment approaches to warts—immunotherapy or destruction.

Destruction

Destruction has tended to be the far more common approach among podiatrists, pediatricians, and other physicians in the past (and even currently). This includes various methods of attacking and removing the wart from the outside in, including:

  • Salicylic acid—destroying the wart with acid
  • Cryotherapy—freezing the wart off, usually with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser—burning the wart off with thermal energy
  • Surgery—cutting the wart out

Although these options can work, there are many disadvantages and downsides common to most destructive forms of plantar wart treatment.

  • All can cause mild-to-moderate pain either during or after the procedure (or both)
  • All except surgery can require several treatments (anywhere from 2-3 to 10 or more) to fully work.
  • None of them address the root causes of warts (i.e. HPV infection), so the recurrence rate is fairly high.

Immunotherapy

Rather than focusing on dealing with the symptom (the lesion in the skin) (via cutting it out of burning it off), immunotherapy treatments target the cause. These treatments seek to stimulate the body’s natural immune response and direct it where it needs to go. Once the virus has been eliminated, the wart disappears.

The best and most effective treatment of this type is one that is quickly gaining prominence across the U.S., and which we’re very glad to be able to offer our patients at Lakes Foot & Ankle: Swift Microwave Therapy.

What is Swift? This is a revolutionary therapy that uses a short burst of (completely safe!) microwaves to heat up water molecules in the upper layers of skin. This alerts the attention of the immune system, which arrives to eradicate the HPV infection naturally.

Here’s the short version of what you can expect:

  • You come to our office.
  • We’ll lightly debride the wart (this doesn’t hurt) and then apply the microwave therapy.
  • The actual application of microwaves lasts only 2 seconds per pulse and most warts get 5 pulses with a short pause between each pulse. Many people experience no pain at all, while a few experience a “fast, hot sensation” that might be slightly uncomfortable. Either way, the sensation is gone almost immediately after the microwaves stop.
  • You walk out the door. The whole process can take as little as 5-10 minutes, and there’s NO aftercare necessary.

Typically, about 3-4 treatments spaced out over as many months are all that’s necessary to get rid of your warts for good. No anesthesia, no drugs, and no home care are needed, and there’s no post-procedure pain.

Oh, and because you’re treating the cause and not the symptom, the wart is much less likely to spring back up once it’s gone.

For a more in-depth look at Swift, check out our full service page on the technology.

And if you’re already convinced? Give our office a call at (248) 360-3888. We’d be happy to help you get rid of your plantar warts for good.

Phone Number

Location

9640 Commerce Rd Suite 102 Commerce Township, MI 48382

Hours

Monday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Tuesday 7:45am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 8:00am – 4:30pm
Thursday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm
Saturday Occasional
Sunday - Closed -

9640 Commerce Rd Suite 102 Commerce Township, MI 48382

Fax

(248) 363-0894

© Lakes Foot And Ankle Associates. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy
Web Design by CP Solutions.