What are Warts (Verruca)?
· Warts are growths of a contagious virus (HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus)
· The HPV virus invades the skin through small cuts or abrasions on its surface – even through openings that are too small to be seen. Once inside the skin, the virus can grow and spread
· Warts spread by direct skin-to-skin contact or from inadvertently leaving the virus somewhere where others can pick it up
What to look for:
· Warts may be flesh-colored, white, tan or pink. Plantar warts are often grey or brown.
· Warts may develop an uneven surface and a cauliflower-like texture over time or they may acquire black spots or streaky lines. These black dots are caused by the bleeding of small blood vessels into the tissue. Warts also can bleed profusely when accidentally scratched or cut.
· Warts can grow to an inch or more if left untreated and can spread to other parts of the body
· A wart may or may not be painful. Warts on the ball of the foot or the heel where weight and pressure are brought to bear, may cause the patient great pain.
What it means to you:
· There are various foot skin lesions including corns, callouses, moles – and even a few rare cancerous growths – that have similar or identical characteristics. It’s best to have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine examine any growth on your foot to determine if it is indeed a wart.
What causes it?
· You acquire the wart virus through direct contact with an infected person, or by coming into contact with an infected surface, such as a shower room floor.
· The virus lives in a warm, moist environment. Incubation period for the HPV can be up to three months, although a wart itself can lie dormant for years.
Wart Treatment Options
· Warts are also stubborn and frustrating. They may disappear for a while, and then recur in the same place. They may go away with treatment and then come back – or they may never recur. Children seem to be more prone
· Most of the time warts require a foot specialist’s intervention before they’ll go away.
· It is essential to receive confirmation from your foot specialist that the lesion you want to treat is, in fact, a wart, and not something else.
· The goal of treatment is to remove the affected area that contains the warty skin cells, while keeping damage to the surrounding tissue to a minimum. This is often accomplished by using chemical removal agents with a stronger potency or different mechanism of action than that found in over-the-counter formulations.
· Freezing with liquid nitrogen is another first line treatment option to help eradicate warts and has a good success rate.
· Dry Needling is a newer technique aimed at stimulating your immune response to warts.
· Cantharone is an extract from the blister beetle and is a powerful tool used against warts. The area often blisters and the dead skin and virus are trimmed away periodically until gone.
· Occasionally topical creams such are prescribed for home that can help target the DNA of the wart virus or stimulate an immune response
· Surgical procedures: excision of the warts through curettage is an effective form of treatment that often results in long-term wart removal Note: Do not try to cut anything you suspect to be a wart off of your own skin. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to infection and scarring.
· The best way to prevent a plantar wart is to keep your feet clean and dry, and to keep them away from surfaces on which the virus might be lurking. Avoid walking barefoot, and wear sandals or some kind of foot covering at pools and in locker rooms and other warm, moist communal areas where people go barefoot.
· Change your shoes and socks daily, and allow your shoes to dry thoroughly between each wearing. Do not wear the shoes or socks of others, not even those of your closest friends. Wash socks after each wearing.
· Check kids’ feet periodically since the earlier a wart is diagnosed, the easier it will be to get rid of it.
· If a wart is diagnosed, do not pick, pull or try to snip at it, and don’t try to rub it with a pumice stone or with any kind of lotion. Avoid nicking or cutting the wart and causing it to bleed.
· Don’t ignore it, either! Put a band-aid over the area to discourage contact with it and see your foot specialist. Wash your hands carefully after caring for the affected area.
· Remember that HPV is a highly contagious virus, and that it will usually spread if not treated. Don’t give it a fighting chance. See your Doctor of Podiatric Medicine immediately!