Viruses can do more than just make you sick. When the right kind of virus gets into your skin, it can cause unpleasant growths as well. This is the root of plantar warts. These lesions are unsightly and uncomfortable, and are usually difficult to completely eliminate.
The Source of These Skin Infections
Warts of all varieties are infections in the uppermost layers of skin caused by a strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus thrives in warm, damp, enclosed environments like public showers, and spreads on contact, meaning it can easily transfer from contaminated surfaces to your skin. There, it enters the topmost layers through tiny cuts or other breaks in the tissue. Then it grows and creates the fleshy bump you know as a wart. Plantar warts are simply this type of lesion on the soles of your feet, usually under high-pressure areas like the ball of the foot or the heel where it can cause pain.
These growths are fairly distinct and easy to identify. They have well-define borders and appear rough or grainy. They may be somewhat flattened and hard from the pressure of your bodyweight. The skin over them may be grey or brown. Often they have tiny black spots in the center that are small, clotted blood vessels. The bumps can be solitary or in small groups called mosaics. They are difficult to treat, too, particularly if they spread and multiply.
Why They’re Painful
Plantar warts are benign growths, which means they are noncancerous and technically harmless. This doesn’t mean they are never painful, however. Because they are on your sole—and often under high-pressure areas—the bumps press uncomfortably into your soft tissues. Sometimes a thick callus can develop over the lesion, which may grow inward as a result. This can make the spot even more uncomfortable to press against. Wearing shoes, standing, and walking on the lesion may become more and more painful.
Getting Rid of the Growths
Plantar warts are stubborn infections that don’t disappear easily. You need invested treatment for as long as it takes to truly eliminate the lesion. Our podiatry team at Martin Foot and Ankle will first examine and diagnose the uncomfortable spot. We may need certain tests to rule out the possibility that the bump is cancerous. From there, we can begin treatment to eradicate the infection and restore your skin.
Most home remedies are not very effective. The body does fight off the virus itself eventually, but that can take several years. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait that long to take care of and eliminate the bumpy lesion. Prescription-strength peeling medication, like salicylic acid, removes the layers of the wart a little at a time. The acid has to be applied carefully to the growth to avoid damaging the surrounding skin. Freezing the growth is another common option. Our team applies liquid nitrogen to the spot to destroy it. The lesion then peels off after a couple of weeks. It may take several treatments to completely eliminate the spot. Immune therapy is another method. Medications or injections stimulate your body to fight against the wart virus. If conservative efforts are not successful, then you may need to have the growth excised.
Warts may be common, but you don’t have to accept living with them. You can take steps to eliminate the bumps and restore your soles. Our podiatrists at Martin Foot and Ankle can help. Make an appointment with our Hanover, York, and Lancaster, PA, offices to take care of any plantar warts now. Just call (717) 757-3537 or use the website to reach us.