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Plantar Warts

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Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are found on the plantar surface (bottom) of the foot and are caused by a virus. They are often confused with calluses and are not properly treated. Even when correctly identifies, they can be resistant to treatment. Some plantar warts are small, rounded, solitary lesions, while others involve large patches of skin from roughly two to four inches across.

  1. Plantar warts can be difficult to treat because of their location on the bottom of the foot. The skin on the bottom of the foot is twice as thick  as the skin on other parts of the body. This thicker skin allows the wart to penetrate deeper and prevents topical medications from reaching all of the wart.

Warts can also be somewhat unpredictable. They can take weeks or months to resolve, sometimes spreading even during aggressive treatment. And they can disappear on their own, without treatment. Treating plantar warts takes patience and persistence and sometimes requires changing or combining different treatment methods. For these reasons, always have a doctor evaluate a suspected wart before treating it yourself.

  • Most over-the-counter wart treatments contain salicylic acid. Liquid wart treatments contain 17 percent of the acid, and medical patches contain 40 percent. 

Do not pick at warts with your fingers. The viral tissue can embed itself in the skin around the fingernails and cause warts on the fingers as well. 



For warts resistant to over-the-counter treatment, your doctor may use mopre aggressive treatments. Such treatments include removing the wart with laser treatment, prescribing medications, or freezing (and killing) the wart with liquid nitrogen. A study published in 2002, however found thaty simply covering a wart with a patch of duct tape was as effective as treating with liquid nitrogen.

  • Recently a refrigerant spray has become available to remove warts on the hands  or tops of the feet by "freezing" them, but it is expensive, the kits are probably less effective than other treatments.
    And they can damage healthy skin if misused.

For reasons we don't understand, children and teenagers tend to be able to resolve warts more quickly than adults. It is suspected that, as it ages, the immune system becomes less effective at fendinmg off the virus that causes warts. It is not unusual for plantr warts to persist even after years of aggressive treatment.

  • Reference: Great Feet for Life: Paul Langer, DPM

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