Eye of Newt and Wart of Toad…

If you feel something brewing this season and it isn’t a witch’s cauldron, it could be a wart forming on your foot. Warts get a bad rap, often being associated with toads and frogs, but in fact, warts have nothing to do with our amphibious friends.

Warts are caused by a virus infecting the top layer of the skin. When they appear on the feet, they are called plantar warts. These can either appear singularly or in groupings, called mosaic warts. Warts spread through direct contact with the virus. When someone with a plantar wart walks barefoot, they leave the virus behind where you can pick it up easily through any cut, break, or weak area in the skin.

Plantar warts like to form around the weight-bearing portions of the foot—usually the bottom of the heel or at the base of the toes. They appear as small lesions or calluses over a defined dot. This dot is sometimes referred to as a “wart seed” but is really just a clotted capillary. Since you are constantly putting pressure on the wart, it grows into the skin, rather than outward as a bump. This may cause pain or discomfort.

Warts are not dangerous. If left untreated, the wart will generally disappear in one to two years. If you experience discomfort when walking on your wart, there are professional treatment options available. (Traditional home remedies are generally not effective at removing warts.)

Your podiatrist may offer a topical solution, using a chemical dressing to cover and treat the wart. This treatment option takes several weeks for results. Freezing a wart away is another option, though again, it may take several treatments before the wart is fully eradicated.

female foot with problem areas on the skin, dry callus.

One more painless and effective option for treating warts is laser therapy. The laser slowly closes the blood vessels under the wart. Without this nutrient source, the wart will shrink and eventually die before falling off the foot completely. If all other treatment methods have failed, your podiatrist may choose to excise the wart surgically from the foot.

There is evidence that purposefully exposing your body to the virus (autoimplantation) will create an autoimmune response that helps treat and prevent future plantar warts, but more research on this option is needed before it becomes the primary choice of treatment.

If you are experiencing a painful wart on the bottom of your foot, stop blaming the frogs and come see your podiatrist instead.

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