A plantar wart is a very common ailment in which hardened, coarse, granular outgrowths develop on the heels, toes and balls of the feet, such as in heel spurs. These lumps are usually the same colour as that of the skin and may sometimes have tiny black spots. Plantar warts can develop as single bumps or multiple masses in the same region, thereby triggering pain and pressure while walking, jogging, running.
Causes Of Plantar Warts:
A plantar wart is essentially a benign tumour, although it is not a serious condition and does not advance to widespread skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma. It is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is also the chief contributing factor for various other benign tumours and cancers such as cervical cancer, anal cancer and oral cancer. The pathogenic virus particles invade the skin tissues via cuts, tears and abrasions in the outermost layer and infect the interior dermal cells in the feet.
For quite a few weeks or even months post infection, the wart is not visible in the feet and only begins to appear prominently later. These plantar warts can spread to skin cells in the vicinity of the affected area in the feet and may even fuse into clumps known as mosaic warts.
The typical signs of plantar warts comprise:
- Rigid, rough lumps in the feet – in the heels, toes and base
- Pain and discomfort in the feet
- Swelling and redness in the heels, posing difficulty while walking, like in the case of turf toe
- Dryness, peeling and itching in the feet, like in athlete’s foot infection
- Cracks and bleeding in the skin of the feet due to breaking of large warts
The doctor conducts a thorough physical examination of both the feet of the patient to look for signs of abnormal outgrowths. A plantar wart showcases a characteristic appearance – exhibiting as a small-sized skin lesion resembling a cauliflower with minuscule black spots in the centre owing to blood clots or haemorrhage.
Since plantar warts appear similar to corns and calluses, they are differentiated on the basis of noticeable friction ridges on the feet. The feet inherently have a bunch of striations running across known as friction ridges. These are still visible when corns and calluses develop solely on the outer layer of skin, while these lines are not clearly seen in the case of plantar warts since the lumps are embedded deep in the skin of the feet.
The primary treatment for plantar warts is prescription creams, gels and solutions containing acids like salicylic acid, formic acid, trichloroacetic acid, which effectively remove the dead skin cells surrounding the lesions in the feet. These topical ointments are keratolytic agents – which have the potential to eliminate hardened dermal tissues and are recommended by healthcare professionals to be applied daily on the affected surface of the feet, to gradually diminish the plantar warts.In instances of huge warts which hamper the person’s ability to stand, walk or move around freely, surgical excision is the main treatment approach. This is done using freezing techniques – liquid nitrogen, cryosurgery, laser procedures or electrical and invasive protocols. While these methods ensure complete removal of the plantar warts from the feet, they leave behind keloids, deep scars and wounds which heal only after several weeks or months. However, maintaining personal hygiene and bandaging the affected area of the feet ensure optimal mending of the injured region and allows for skin cells and tissues to undergo repair and renew