A plantar wart is a contagious virus known as human papillomavirus. It is often spread in public places such as gym locker rooms, pools, and other areas of high “barefoot” traffic. The virus invades the skin through cracks, cuts, or fissures. It can take months before the person realizes that it is there. They may notice it sooner if the wart happens to be on a pressure area of the foot which causes significant pain. It is usually pain that brings people into our office.
Warts settle in the top layer of our skin. If you’ve ever had a blister, the “bubble” part is the top layer of skin or the epidermal layer. When you pop the blister, you see a bright red tissue underneath the blister which is the dermal or bottom layer. Since the wart settles in the top layer of our skin, most wart treatments are aimed at causing a blister to the affected area. These treatments literally lift the wart out of the skin. In our office, we use a minor chemical burn or freeze spray, depending on the severity of the wart. After the treatment, your foot will be sore for a couple of days so we encourage you to take it easy. Sometimes the blister will pop on its own and sometimes we pop it on your follow up visit.
Most of the time, one treatment will do it. However, it can require multiple treatments and, of course, warts can recur. Every once in a while, when these conservative treatments fail, surgical excision of the wart is required. This does not occur very often.
So, if you happen to develop a painful skin lesion on the bottom of your foot, come see us and we’ll take care of it.
Dr. Jonathan Williamson