A number of people come into the Clinic with Plantar Warts, or Fish Eyes, as Trinis call them. I have seen from the six year old to mature. Many are shocked to hear it is a viral infection, the human papilloma virus (HPV). I usually have to explain that it is a strain of the HPV.
If the body’s immune system is weakened, it can be present for a while, or more can pop up. In these situations, your warts may be large, cover a wide area, and be harder to treat. Whilst you can get a wart anywhere, my focus is the plantar wart; plantar speaks to the sole of the feet.
Plantar warts may go away on their own, although this can take months or years. In some people, they don’t feel pain, but if they are on a pressure point, it can cause discomfort or be quite painful. They are most widespread in school-aged children and young adults; however, I do see several mature patients with it too.
Plantar warts can be uncomfortable or painful, especially if they’re on your feet or near your nail beds. You may find them unsightly as well.
If you suspect a plantar wart, or you know it is a wart and it is bothering you, see your podiatrist. They’ll ask about it, how long you’ve had it, and how it affects you. They would examine it, and execute or suggest treatments/ products to use.
Most plantar warts will go away by themselves and don’t need any treatment. Often, leaving them is the best option, especially for
children, as some treatments can be time consuming, painful, and cause side effects. But you may want to consider treatment if your wart becomes painful, unsightly, or doesn’t go away. There are many different types of treatment for warts, but none works completely, and doctors still aren’t sure which ones work best. It’s not unusual for your wart to return after treatment.
The most commonly used treatments for warts are debridement, treatment containing salicylic acid, and cryotherapy (freezing). See your podiatrist or dermatologist to explore which treatment they utilise. If you are taking medicines that lower your immunity, it can be a factor in your plantar wart not going away.
There are many creams, gels and medicated plasters for treating warts. Be guided by your podiatrist, as some of these solutions can cause damage to healthy layers of skin, if not used properly. This is because many of these contain salicylic acid, which is an active ingredient. This is a chemical that helps by softening the hard outer layer of your wart. Diabetic patients need to stay away from purchasing such products.
Always carefully follow the instructions that come with your medicines for warts. Make sure you apply it to the wart only. Avoid getting it on the surrounding area, as it can cause irritation to your healthy skin. Don’t use it on broken skin. Use an emery board or pumice stone once or twice a week, to remove any excess callus. You may need to use this treatment daily for up to three months.
Cryotherapy is the process of freezing your wart, using liquid nitrogen, and utilised by some health professionals. Your health provider applies the liquid nitrogen to your wart using either a spray, or a cotton bud. It takes between five and 30 seconds to freeze your wart, depending on the technique used, along with the size and location of the wart.
Your health provider may recommend repeating the cryotherapy every one to four weeks for up to six treatments. It can be painful, and sometimes leads to blistering or scarring of your skin. It isn’t often recommended for children because it’s painful. Cryotherapy isn’t recommended in certain circumstances, such as if you have poor circulation. As well, it hasn’t been found to be any more effective than salicylic acid treatment.
In some circumstances the health professional might suggest surgical removal of your wart. Your health provider may remove your wart by scraping it away using an instrument called a curette. Or they may offer laser treatment, which involves using a laser to destroy your wart, and the blood vessels that supply it. These procedures are done under local anaesthesia. A number of surgical procedures leave scars, and these can be painful on the soles of your feet. In about three out of ten cases, the wart comes back after surgical removal. To try and prevent this, your health professional may recommend a combination of surgery and medicines.
The bottom line is, choose wisely; a quick fix isn’t always the best fix. Surgery has its place, but isn’t always best suited for certain conditions, particularly based on anatomical location.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!