Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
My daughter came home from her first semester at college for the holidays. Just before she left ,she started complaining about pain in the bottom of her foot. She went to the doctor when she got back to school and he told her that she had a plantar wart. How did she get that? And, more importantly, do I need to do something around the house? Are they contagious?
And why are frogs connected to warts anyway?
The Wart Wonderer
Warts are interesting and can be embarrassing. It used to be said that if you got a wart that you had been kissing a frog. No, that is not where you get warts. People thought that the bumps that many frogs have on their bodies looked like warts and that one could catch warts from handling frogs. You can’t.
There are many different kinds of warts. You can get warts anywhere on your body. For the most part, warts can be benign. They can go away by themselves if given a L O N G time. The exact cause of warts is not completely understood but it is thought that they are connected to HPV or the human papillomavirus.
There are several kinds of warts that are found on the feet. Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet. Periungual warts grow around toenails and fingernails. Mosaic warts are plantar warts that have gone on a growing frenzy. I would include a picture but let’s just say that when you have mosaic warts that you have a lot of plantar warts grouped in a small area. I don’t think you want to see a picture…
Plantar warts can grow and not bother you but sometimes, due to the location on the foot and the pressure of walking, they can cause pain. It can feel like you are walking on a marble. When this happens, it is time to get it checked out. Unless you have had warts before and are sure it is a wart, you should got to the doctor. Sometimes people will mistake some kinds of skin cancer for warts. It is best to know what you are doing.
A visit to your friendly podiatrist will be easy. The doctor will be able to recognize the wart immediately. If there is any question, a quick skin biopsy can be done to check it out.
There are several treatments for warts. They can be treated with over the counter remedies. There are two kinds of products available over the counter. The first kind contains salicylic acid and the second uses a chemical to “freeze” the wart. These methods are not fast nor are they always effective.
Some people recommend putting duct tape or electrical tape over the wart and changing the tape weekly until the wart is gone. It is thought that the tape will “suffocate” the wart. This is slightly reminiscent of the “get warts from frogs” theory. At least with the new colors and patterns in duct tape, you can coordinate with your outfit. (You know I am kidding, right?)
Your friendly local podiatrist can treat warts in several different ways. A stronger salicylic acid can be prescribed or the doctor can apply cantharidin to the area. The most common in office treatment for warts it to use liquid nitrogen which is a strong freezing agent. It could be that your doctor will suggest electrosurgery and curettage which is a method of burning the wart and then cutting it out.
Unfortunately, there is not a guarantee that a wart removed will be a wart forever gone. While you can remove the wart, the virus can still remain. It is possible that you will find another wart in the same or a different spot.
Warts are contageous. They can be found in those favorite spots for so many foot infections – showers and pools. You can also get the infection by sharing towels, razors or other personal items. The agent that causes warts looks for small breaks in the skin and then burrows in to take up residence. By the time you notice that you have a wart, it may have been there for months. You can spread the wart by touching it and then touching another part of your body.
So, you should wear shower shoes and not share personal items to avoid being infected. Actually you should wear shower shoes to avoid lots of problems (athletes feet and toe nail fungus to name a two reasons) and you should not share personal items like towels or razors because they are called personal items for a reason.
If I were you, I would disinfect the shower and wash the sheets and towels used by your daughter in hot water. It does seem that some people are more susceptible than others. Warts are most commonly found in children and young adults.
And to once again give special directions to my diabetic friends…
My diabetic friends should go to the doctor if you think that you have a wart. You do not want to apply acid or a freezing agent to your foot by yourself. Please have your friendly podiatrist take care of the problem.
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
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