Plantar Wart (Verruca Plantaris)
What Is a Plantar Wart?
A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. The result is a small lesion (spot) on the skin that contains viral particles, reactive skin and very small nerves and blood vessels.
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.
Is There More Than One Type of Plantar Wart?
- 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.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a plantar wart may include:
Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because the tough, thick skin that can build up in the surrounding area.
A plantar wart usually hurts during walking and standing. 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.
What Causes a Plantar Wart?
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.
Your Weil Foot & Ankle Surgeon will examine your foot to look for the signs and symptoms of a wart. If there is excess buildup of skin, your Weil Foot & Ankle Surgeon, will suggest removing that excess skin in order to better assess the underlying skin lesion.
The Weil Foot and Ankle Institute offers numerous treatment modalities for the treatment of plantar warts.
Treatment options include:
- Surgical removal
- Cryotherapy: Freezing of the warts
- Chemical ablation: Treatment with chemicals or acids to remove the wart
- Prescription medication for topical use
In addition, the Weil Foot and Ankle Institute 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.
Topaz by Arthrocare, which utilizes radiofrequency waves with local anesthesia to eradicate the warts, is also available at Weil Foot & Ankle Institute. 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.