Our Experienced Texas Podiatrist Explains Why Plantar Warts Are a Commonly Misunderstood Skin Condition

A plantar wart is a benign, fleshy growth that often shows up on the heels and balls of the foot. They can be rough, grainy, or bumpy in appearance. This common viral skin infection affects approximately 10% of the population and is most common in young adults and children. This virus gets into the body through tiny scrapes and cuts and is commonly spread in communal showers, public swimming pools, and in sharing towels. Debunking the myths about plantar warts

There is a lot of misinformation about plantar warts, and the skilled podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists want to debunk the myths about them for our patients.

Myths About Plantar Warts

Most people will develop at least one plantar wart in their lifetime. But even though these warts are contagious, they’re not dangerous or a serious medical condition. There are numerous myths that people believe about warts, and knowing the truth about them can help you to make better decisions about the care of your skin.

Myth #1. Frogs and Toads Cause Warts

Frogs and toads do not cause plantar warts. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes this type of wart, and it’s only carried by humans. Some skin secretions of amphibians can irritate your skin, possibly causing a rash, but toads, frogs, and salamanders can’t give you warts. The virus enters the body through broken skin or a scratch after you come in direct contact with any surface that has been contaminated by the virus.

Myth #2. Warts Are a Sign of Cancer

Warts are benign growths. While they are caused by a strain of HPV, the strains that create warts on your feet aren’t the strains that cause cancer. They are not cancerous, they are not signs of cancer, and they don’t develop into cancer.

Myth #3. Plantar Warts Have Seeds or Roots    

You may have noticed black dots when you looked at a wart, but these are not seeds or roots. They are the ends of tiny blood vessels.

Myth #4. Plantar Warts Are Not Contagious

Warts can spread from one person to another through direct contact. A small cut or abrasion on the skin, even one so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye, can allow the virus into the body, leading to warts. Children and teens are particularly susceptible, as are people who have had plantar warts previously.

Myth #5. There Is Nothing You Can Do to Prevent Plantar Warts

There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of developing a plantar wart. Avoiding direct contact with someone else’s wart is the key to prevention. You can do this by not going barefoot in showers, around public pools, and in locker rooms and wearing flip-flops or water shoes whenever you’re walking in these types of areas. Also, don’t share socks, towels, razors, or shoes with anyone, and change your socks every day.

Myth #6. Home Remedies Work for Treating Plantar Warts

Whether it’s garlic, castor oil and baking powder, pineapple juice, or duct tape, there is no evidence to show that home remedies help with removing warts. You may have just as much success with allowing the wart to go away on its own. Podiatrists can remove a plantar wart quickly and efficiently with a variety of different technologies.

Myth #6. Over-the-Counter Products Are as Good as Professional Care

The salicylic acid in most store-bought kits is often either excessive or insufficient to burn off warts. It can cause damage to healthy tissue or fail to fully eliminate the wart. In addition, many of these products must be applied repeatedly over time to be effective.

Myth #7. Plantar Warts Don’t Cause Any Other Issues

While warts aren’t cancerous, they are contagious and can spread to other parts of your body or other people. They can also cause pain and discomfort, particularly if they are on the bottom of the foot. To cope with this pain or discomfort, you may alter how you walk, which can lead to joint or muscle issues. For people with diabetes, warts can be a catalyst for bigger issues, such as sores that can become foot ulcers and serious medical complications.

Myth #8. It’s Safe to Cut Out the Wart Myself

Bathroom surgery puts you at risk for injury and infections. It’s never a good idea to cut out or scrape off a wart on your own, especially if you are a patient with diabetes. Not only could you cut yourself, but you could also cause the wart to spread. Our top-rated podiatrists can give you safe options for having it removed.

How Podiatrists Treat Plantar Warts

If you have diabetes or another medical condition that reduces circulation in your feet or are experiencing persistent pain, discomfort, or other symptoms related to a wart on your foot, we can help. There are several different ways that podiatrists can treat your plantar warts, such as freezing, applying acid, or surgery, but these treatments sometimes take months to work, and the wart may still recur later. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we were the first clinic in Texas to offer a cutting-edge treatment that is generally safer and more effective, called Swift Microwave Therapy. Swift is:

  • Safe
  • Permanent
  • Cleared by the FDA to treat numerous skin conditions, including plantar warts
  • Minimally invasive
  • Often painless or only slightly uncomfortable for around 3-4 seconds
  • Quick, getting patients back into their daily activities quickly, with no recovery time or wound to keep dry or covered
  • Effective, often after only one treatment
  • Administered directly to the wart without impacting healthy skin tissue nearby
  • Shown to reduce the rate of recurrence
  • Utilized without need for bandages or dressings afterward

While You’re Waiting for Your Appointment

If you have a plantar wart, the best course of action is to have it removed by a podiatrist. If you share a home with other people, you should take preventative action to ensure that you don’t spread the virus to them while you are waiting for treatment. You should:

  • Keep the wart dry. The HPV virus loves warm, damp environments, so keeping the wart dry can reduce the chances of it spreading.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands. If you touch the wart, use an antibacterial soap and warm water to decontaminate your hands.
  • Cover the wart with a bandage. A bandage won’t make the wart go away any faster, but it can prevent the temptation to pick at it and reduce your chances of spreading the condition to another person.
Craig Thomajan
Connect with me
Austin Podiatrist