Plantar warts are a viral infection of the skin, commonly associated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Warts predominantly affect the hands and feet; plantar warts affect the soles of the feet and appear to interrupt the normal appearance of the skin.
Plantar warts are considered part of the Human Papilloma Virus and are passed on through broken areas of skin, particularly wet or sweaty skin. Swimming pools and public showers are reported as the most common infection site. People walking around bare feet, particularly wet or sweaty, are the most likely people to be infected with the wart virus.
Plantar warts are painful with weight-bearing, particularly on bony prominences and without shoes. Pressure, particularly either side of the wart usually increases the painful symptoms. However, warts can occur on the skin with no pain reported.
If you have or suspect you have plantar warts, you should seek treatment immediately to ensure the virus is not spread to other area of the body. If you share showers, thongs should be worn to prevent passing the virus on to other family members. Treatment is determined by the appearance of the wart, both size and location. There are a variety of antiviral wart preparations recommended; some are available from the pharmacy. Chemical ablation is a popular treatment option. Podiatrists have access to strong chemicals which are not available over the counter in the pharmacy. In most cases, curetting (cutting out) the plantar wart is not recommended due to the risk of scarring on the sole of the foot.
You shouldn’t pick at warts with your fingernails, as this may spread the virus to the hands. If the wart is not painful, you may choose not to treat the area. It is possible, but not common, for the body to recognise the wart as a foreign object and destroy the virus.
As plantar warts are a viral infection, they may spread on to other areas of the foot, and also the body. Warts can grow in size which may substantially increase the painful symptoms. Therefore, if a wart is recognised or is creating pain, the area should be treated as soon as possible to ensure it does not proliferate.
Sporting club showers and swimming pools are prominent places where the wart virus may spread. Sports medicine professionals such as podiatrists are able to diagnose and treat plantar warts whilst ensuring the athlete is still able to compete during the treatment process. There are different treatment options, which may vary in their degrees of damage to the skin. The size and location of the warts will decide the best treatment option with minimal time away from sporting activities. Commonly we use strong acids to burn the wart which is a painless procedure but requires multiple treatments. Performance Podiatry & Physiotherapy have developed a technique of eradicating plantar warts with only 1-2 treatments without the risk of scarring.