What is a Plantar Wart?
A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly.
There are two types of plantar warts:
A solitary wart is a single wart. It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional “satellite” warts.
Mosaic warts are a cluster of several small warts growing closely together in one area. Mosaic warts are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
What Causes Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body. Typically, the plantar wart virus is acquired in public places where people go barefoot, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, and karate classes. It can also be acquired at home if other family members have the virus.
Symptoms of Plantar Warts
Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue.
A plantar wart usually hurts during walking and standing, and there is pain when the sides of the wart are squeezed.
Tiny black dots:
These often appear on the surface of the wart. The dots are actually dried blood contained in the infected capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
Plantar warts grow deep into the skin. Usually this growth occurs slowly: the wart starts off small and gets larger over time.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Plantar Warts
To diagnose a plantar wart, the foot and ankle surgeon will examine the patient’s foot and look for signs and symptoms of a wart.
The Foot Group offers numerous treatment modalities for the medical care of plantar warts. These include the typical treatment options of cutting-out the warts, freezing the warts, shaving the warts, using chemicals/acid on the warts, burning the warts and prescription medication to be applied by the patient.
The Foot group is one of the few practices in the country which offers 2 types of laser removal of warts, along with radiofrequency ablation of the warts.
The CO 2 laser is used with local anesthetic and typically one treatment is needed to eradicate the warts. This is followed by daily soaking of the foot until the area is healed. The advantage of the CO 2 laser is that only one treatment is needed to remove the warts.
The pulsed-dye laser may be used with or without anesthesia and may include a series of treatments to eradicate the warts, however, it is less painful than the CO 2 laser or cutting out the warts. The biggest advantage of the pulsed-dye laser, is that it allows the patient to return to full activity immediately.
The final treatment available is the Topaz by Arthrocare, which utilizes radiofrequency waves with local anesthesia to eradicate the warts. The advantage of the Topaz is that it is minimally invasive, with no need for soaking after the procedure. Usually the patient is able to return to full activity within a few days.