Plantar Warts

 

In a grid-down scenario, some medical issues involve conditions that aren’t life-threatening by themselves but can affect work efficiency, thus decreasing your chances of survival in the long run. One of these is the plantar wart.

What Are Warts?

Warts are rough, round skin lesions found most commonly on the hands or soles of the feet; the word “plantar” simply refers to the sole of the foot. They are caused, not by toads, but by the human papillomavirus.  This virus comes in various subtypes that affect different areas.  Some subtypes are responsible for genital warts and even cervical cancer.

Warts found on the soles of the feet are most likely to cause symptoms due to the weight placed on them as you stand and walk.  The usual sensation is that of a pebble in your shoe. Normally brownish-gray or yellow in color, the visible part of a plantar wart is often just the top of a larger wart hiding under the skin.

How Can You Tell It’s a Viral Wart?

A viral wart can be distinguished from corns or other foot lesions in that they interrupt the lines on the sole of your feet (yes, you have a unique footprint just like you have fingerprints). Also, they have little black dots that represent tiny blood vessels affected by the virus. Squeezing a plantar wart usually elicits pain.

Plantar warts are contagious; they can be caught by contact with infected skin scales on shower or locker room floors.  The virus enters through small openings in the surface of the skin.  Moistness allows the virus more time to enter.  The tendency to develop warts seems to differ from person to person, however, even with similar exposure to the virus.  Those who spend a lot of time barefoot develop calluses that seem to protect them from warts (good for you, Cody Lundin).

Therefore, common-sense preventative measures include:

  • Not sharing socks, shoes, towels, or other items with others.
  • Not re-using socks without washing them in hot, soapy water first.
  • Wear sandals (your own) in locker rooms, gyms, and around swimming pools and shower rooms.
  • Disinfect your bathroom floors on a regular basis.
  • Don’t touch warts on others, and wash your hands after touching your own.

Once it has been determined that you have plantar warts, there are various ways to deal with them.  It’s important to treat as early as possible; later on, the wart will get bigger, tougher, and harder to eliminate.  Having said that, many plantar warts will go away by themselves over a period of time (sometimes, years).  You don’t have to treat it unless you are experiencing discomfort, identify a spreading pattern, or believe the wart is unsightly.

                                                                                                        Wart Spread Pattern

You might want to apply a special foot pad (commonly available at any pharmacy) over the wart that cushions the foot as you walk.  This would be useful to decrease discomfort while you are treating the wart.

One treatment technique is to obtain a cheap emery board specifically for the purpose of filing down the wart.  Do this when your foot is wet and the wart has softened a little.  NEVER use this emery board on your nails: It is possible to develop warts under your fingernails that may be uncomfortable and difficult to get rid of.

Then, use one of various medications, like Salicylic Acid, that will wear down the plantar wart with daily use.  Don’t use these treatments on genital warts, as they will burn.  Cover the wart afterwards with a small round band-aid to prevent spread of the virus.  Another technique recommended by some involves occluding the wart by continually covering it with duct tape.

Physicians can cauterize warts by freezing (“cryocautery”) or burning (“electrocautery”). In the worst cases, surgical removal is performed. You should be aware that scarring can occur in some cases, so don’t try to do this yourself if modern medical care is available to you.

                                                                                                      Excised Plantar Wart

If you have warts now, you may get new ones in the future.  To be ready for this possibility, a prepared individual will add some of the above items to their medical supplies.

Dr. Bones

 

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