One of the reasons for visiting a foot specialist is for plantar warts. Most plantar warts don't cause problems, but some can get large and uncomfortable. They can also be hard to diagnose because they don't look like other types of warts. Here is more information about plantar warts, their cause and treatment, and how a podiatrist can help with relief.
What are Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are unusual wart-like growths that grow on the bottom of the foot. They often appear as raised, rough patches on the skin with a well-defined border. They're easily confused with other foot skin problems, so a foot specialist can give you the best diagnosis.
How Are Plantar Warts Different From Other Warts?
Warts formed on other parts of the body and on the top of the foot are uniformly round and raised off the skin. However, because plantar warts occur on the bottom of the feet, they get flattened out and grow inward. They look similar to other skin problems like calluses.
What Causes Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts, and warts in general, are caused by strains of the human papilloma virus, or HPV. You can easily catch them by walking barefoot on damp surfaces shared by other people such as a locker room floor or at a public pool. All it takes is a small crack or cut in the skin for the virus to get in. Try wearing shower shoes, flip-flops, or sandals in these areas to reduce your risk.
How Bad Can Plantar Warts Get?
Most plantar warts do not cause problems, but large ones can cause pain. Some plantar warts can swell up and even bleed. This pain and swelling could cause changes in the way you walk as you try to avoid the pain. Gait problems can lead to misalignment in your hips and knees and lead to future joint problems.
What Treatments Help With Plantar Warts?
Small warts may respond to over-the-counter plantar wart removal treatments. However, if that doesn't work, or your warts are severe, then a podiatrist may offer stronger chemical or surgical treatments. Examples of professional treatment include freezing the wart, or using a laser to remove it. Your doctor can also use traditional surgical treatments.
If you think you have plantar wart symptoms, or you have problems with your feet that you can't identify, then see a foot specialist. Do not attempt home remedies if you aren't sure you have plantar warts or if you have diabetes or neuropathy. Most plantar warts will not cause problems, but some have complications. A podiatrist can give you treatment ideas to reduce discomfort.