To Treat (Or Not To Treat) Plantar Warts

November 2, 2009 by admin 

Q:  What happens when plantar warts go untreated for a really long time?A:  Plantar warts are benign epithelial tumors that form on the bottom of your feet.  They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which enters the skin through minor cuts and abrasions.  They tend to form on the ball of the foot, the heel and the pads of the toes – areas of the foot that are under pressure from the body’s weight.  Because of this pressure, the warts are pushed inward.  They are usually identified by a slightly raised layer of hard skin with one or more black pinpoints in the center.  (These black pinpoints are clotted blood vessels).Plantar warts are what is a called a “self-limiting” organism.  This means that they limit their own growth and usually go away of their own accord.  If you decide to let your plantar wart go untreated, it will eventually disappear.  But be warned: the process usually takes months or even years.  And some of us are not that patient!Plantar warts are harmless: they pose absolutely zero short-term or long-term threats to your good health.  If your plantar wart does not cause you any pain or discomfort, then you have done nothing wrong by letting it go untreated, as long as you are taking precautions to prevent spreading it to others.  Don’t go barefoot in public locker rooms or showers.  If you are sharing a bathroom at home, you should probably wear flip-flops in the shower and encourage your roommates to do the same.  However, untreated warts can sometimes cause the foot to become very sore or tender.  And obviously, if your warts are causing you pain, then you should get rid of them as fast as possible!  There are a variety of over-the-counter treatments that have proven successful.  Warts can be treated with a 40 percent salicylic acid solution or patch found at your local drug store.  Duct tape once again proves itself as the miracle tape that can fix anything!  Studies have found that by covering warts in duct tape for six days and then soaking feet in warm water and exfoliating the skin with a pumice stone, warts can be eliminated in as little as 2 months.  For some people, plantar warts can be quite aggressive and very contagious (a good reason to treat your warts even if they are causing you no pain).  One wart can give rise to a colony of warts on your foot or spread from person to person.  If you are worried about your wart multiplying, or want to ensure that you won’t pass it on to others (i.e., are tired of wearing flip-flops in the shower), then you should seek treatment.  If over-the-counter treatments have failed to get your wart situation under control, or if you have a history of plantar warts, you may want to visit a doctor who can freeze off your wart using liquid nitrogen.


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