The English call it a Verruca; the Americans call it a Plantar Wart, and us Trinis – a Fish Eye. Called by either name, in any climate, it is a common complaint, worse though in tropical climes. A verruca/plantar wart is a small skin lesion which is commonly found on the soles of your feet especially at pressure points such as the heels, or on the balls of feet. Plantar warts got their name from the plantar surface, which is the sole of the foot. Sometimes plantar warts appear in clusters, but other times it’s only one.
Appearance of the Wart
- The surface of the wart is sometimes covered with black dots that are actually small blood vessels that feed it.
- It is often mistaken for corns or calluses, but are recognisable because they are generally flesh growths that are hard, flat, and have very clearly defined boundaries.
- The colour is usually paler than the usual tone of the skin, white or yellow in hue most times.
- Patients often complain that the wart feels like a small stone under the foot.
- They are not necessarily dangerous but can be very painful because of the fact that they grow inwards. When inflamed it can be so painful that the person has difficulty walking.
- They are inclined to spread to other areas of the foot.
- All warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a double-stranded DNA virus that causes warts to develop in the outer layers of the skin when it enters the body. Once the virus has gained access to the body, it remains in the inner or lower layers of the epidermis where it may remain totally unnoticed and benign. If it does not do so, then you get warts developing.
- If there is a break, scratch or a thorn in the skin, this will give the virus an opportunity to enter the skin.
- Warts are commonly contracted in communal places such as swimming pools, showers and changing areas. This is how children are at risk of contracting them in school changing rooms and swimming pools.
- Walking around barefooted and sharing shoes with others can also contribute.
- Excessive moisture or excessive dryness of the skin can lead to small cracks through which the virus may gain access.
Three options are available each of which has its own particular benefits and drawbacks. You should weigh these factors carefully, in order to find the one which is best for your situation and/or pocket.
- Use of an over the counter product containing salicylic acid may be of benefit. Some products contain an extremely small percentage of the acid and naturally in such cases it would take even longer. Product effectiveness varies from person to person. You must read and follow instructions on the package, and be willing to use the products for the specified time. This is a concern for people who have busy lifestyles; but they must ensure that they are willing to take the tine to use the product regularly. A note of warning – it is important that application of these products is confined to the affected area only as it may lead to damage of healthy skin. Diabetics should not use these products.
- A minor procedure can be done using with a scalpel to remove it. In some instances the procedure may require either general or local anesthesia. Some people have severe fears regarding procedures of this nature. Something to consider is that this method could be costly and there are no guarantees that the warts will not return.
- Cryosurgery, which is freezing of the wart, is another method. In most instances liquid nitrogen is used. The procedure kills the cells of the wart via freezing. This method is sometimes preferred because it is not invasive surgery. However, caution must be taken in doing it to ensure that healthy skin cells are not damaged. This procedure could also be expensive and is NOT the preferred choice by foot care specialists.
It is recommended that initially you seek advice from a chiropodist/podiatrist/foot health practitioner. Together you can assess the pros and cons of the available methods and then make an informed decision on the preferred option.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!