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Warts: When Ugly Foot Bumps Hurt

They’re on toads and witches’ noses in illustrations. They grow big, unsightly and embarrassing. Nobody likes warts—though they’re technically harmless, people work hard to get rid of them quickly. Plantar warts are especially unpleasant, since they can make walking and wearing shoes uncomfortable.

Viruses in the Skin

Warts are a noncancerous skin growth that develop when the human papillomavirus (HPV) infects your skin. The virus typically enters the outer layers through a cut, scrape, or other break in the tissue, then causes a fleshy lesion to grow. This bump is typically rough and grainy, and may be mostly flat or raised. It sometimes has black dots in its center from tiny capillaries. Lesions on the sole of the foot often develop calluses over them and are called plantar warts. These growths tend to be grey or brown and have clearly defined boundaries.

The lesions are also highly contagious. The virus in the skin passes on to other people and even to other surfaces when you come into contact with them, and they can spread to and multiply on other areas of your feet. The spots are frequently harmless, but they are unsightly and may cause pain when they’re in a weight-bearing area. The infection is a stubborn one, too—it often takes a lot of concentrated treatment to eliminate the lesion.

Eliminating Bumps for Smoother Skin

Fortunately, conservative methods can be effective for eliminating this growth. Dr. Paul C. LaFata and our staff will examine your lower limbs to make sure the lesions are plantar warts and rule out other possible problems. Often the growth can be identified by simple tests, but we may take a biopsy of the tissue to be sure. Once the growth has been identified, we can help you figure out the best therapy to eliminate the bumps.

There are multiple topical medications to eliminate warts. Salicylic acid is a peeling medication that removes the growth one layer or so at a time, eventually causing the whole lesion to fall off. Another medication, made from a beetle extract, causes a blister to form over the growth. When the blister heals, the wart is resolved as well. Other medications may boost your immune system so that your body fights back against the virus more intensely. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to super-freeze the infected tissue, destroying it.

Sometimes, however, the wart doesn’t respond to conservative treatments—or it continues to return. You may need to have the growth excised. This procedure is minor. Your foot is numbed, then the bump is carefully cut out of your foot. Sometimes the surrounding tissue is treated with an electric needle at this time to help prevent the growth from returning.

Warts can return multiple times and may take a while to heal; however, prompt treatment is your best chance to eliminate the bump quickly, relieve the discomfort, and prevent it from spreading around. If you or someone you care for is struggling with plantar warts, let us know at West Lawn Podiatry Associates, serving the West Lawn, Reading, Wyomissing, and surrounding areas. Call (610) 678-4581 or submit a form on our website to contact us for an appointment.


 

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West Lawn Podiatry
Center for Foot & Ankle Care

25 Stevens Avenue

West Lawn, PA 19609

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