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What Are Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts are benign (noncancerous) growths that occur on the sole, heel, or ball of the foot. Most plantar warts are diagnosed based on their appearance. They are generally rough and spongy, and most are gray, brown, or yellow with dark pinpoints—these are typically tiny capillaries that supply blood to the wart. Plantar warts often develop beneath pressure points on your feet, such as the balls or heels of your feet. When this occurs the pressure may cause the wart to grow inward and a painful callus develops essentially hiding the wart.

Plantar warts can occur when the human papilloma virus (HPV) invades the body through the skin on the bottom of the feet typically through cuts, breaks, or other vulnerable sites on the skin of our feet. The virus often is present on contaminated surfaces, such as the tile floors of public locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools.

When first diagnosed, individuals often feel a “lump” on the bottom of the foot when standing, similar to having a stone in the shoe. If left untreated, plantar warts can grow up to 1 inch in circumference and may spread into clusters (called mosaic warts). In severe cases, they cause a change in gait or posture that results in leg or back pain.

Self-treatment is generally not advisable. Over-the-counter preparations contain acids or chemicals that destroy skin cells, and it takes an expert to destroy abnormal skin cells (warts) without also destroying surrounding healthy tissue. Self-treatment with such medications especially should be avoided by people with diabetes and those with cardiovascular or circulatory disorders. Never use these medications in the presence of an active infection.

If you believe you suffer from plantar warts, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bertolo today to find an effective treatment option for you.

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