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Plantar warts: What they are, how they’re treated, and how to avoid them

What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts are a skin condition caused by a virus. Although the virus may be found anywhere on the skin, it is most common on the soles of the feet due to the manner of transmission of the virus. They are also more common in teens and children, although some lucky individuals seem to have a natural immunity to developing plantar warts.

Plantar warts are typically contracted by walking barefoot on damp or dirty ground where the virus is active. Often the most common places where people contract plantar warts are gym or locker room floors and around swimming pools — in essence, warm, damp communal areas where people may be more likely to walk barefoot without considering the cleanliness of the floor or ground. The virus that causes these warts tends to thrive in such environments. Warts are also more likely to spread if they are touched, scratched, or if skin from the wart sheds.

How are plantar warts treated?

The best way to treat plantar warts is with the help of your podiatrist at Kansas City Foot Specialists. Although over-the-counter treatments are available for plantar warts, the virus causing warts can be stubborn, and over-the-counter treatments for plantar warts may do more harm than good. If not used exactly as directed, these medications can break down healthy skin — leaving your feet open to more warts and other complications. It is especially important to seek podiatric care for plantar warts if you have diabetes, cardiovascular or circulatory disease, or peripheral neuropathy. It is important to have your feet examined for signs of any additional complications or issues before treating plantar warts. Your podiatrist will be able to determine if you do in fact have plantar warts or if you have conditions with similar symptoms, such as certain types of skin cancers.

Your podiatrist may perform a simple, in-office procedure to remove your warts or prescribe a wart-removal medication for home use. Whichever method your podiatrist decides is ideal for your situation, you will have the professional care of your podiatrist to rely on throughout your wart treatment. If your podiatrist prescribes medication for home use, you will have follow-up appointments to monitor your treatment and to watch for signs of complications from topical treatments — you don’t get that level of care with over-the-counter preparations.

How can you avoid developing plantar warts?

The best way to avoid developing plantar warts is to simply never walk barefoot, especially in communal areas such as locker rooms, gyms, around swimming pools, or in saunas. These are all breeding grounds for plantar warts and a variety of fungal infections. Even if you never walk barefoot, be sure to changes your socks and shoes regularly, and allow shoes to dry out completely between wearings if they become damp or wet. Keep your feet clean, dry them thoroughly when they get wet, and inspect the skin of your feet regularly for any abnormalities. If you have children, periodically inspect their feet as well and teach them healthy foot hygiene habits.

If you notice any abnormalities on your feet, ankles, or lower legs, be sure to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist at Kansas City Foot Specialists for further evaluation. Between the time that you notice the abnormality and your podiatry appointment, be sure to continue practicing good foot hygiene and be sure to avoid allowing your bare feet to come in contact with surfaces that others might be walking on in order to prevent the spread of warts or other infections.

To have your feet evaluated for warts or other concerns, or to learn more about how a podiatrist can help you keep your feet healthy, call Kansas City Foot Specialists today at (913) 338-4440 or schedule an appointment.