What are warts and are they the same as corns on the feet?
A corn/callus on the foot is caused by excessive pressure to the skin whereas a wart is a skin condition caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – we’d like to call them the ‘cauliflower’ on your feet. Corns and warts are totally different lesions with different causes requiring different treatments. For this reason, it’s vital to get the diagnosis right from the start to ensure you get the best outcome.
A wart develops into a hard, rough growth on the surface of the skin overtime. Warts can occur anywhere on the body but most commonly occur most commonly on hands and feet. The shape and size of warts vary.
Podiatrists will be able to distinguish between a wart and corn very quickly. Warts can be fairly straight forward to diagnose but it can be quite a task to treat.
In this blog you will learn about how warts are contracted, what they look like and how they are managed and treated by a Podiatrist.
How did I get warts? And are they contagious?
As mentioned above, warts on the feet are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus. Warts can be contagious, but the risk of passing them onto others is low. Transmission of the virus is usually through direct contact or indirect contact with the virus.
You are more at risk of being infected if your skin is damaged, wet or in contact with roughened surfaces. For example, most commonly people report noticing a wart has developed after using a public swimming pool or bathing area. You can also spread the wart virus to other areas of your body, for example they can spread if you pick at them.
If you have a weaker/poor immune system you may develop lots of warts which are difficult to clear as successful treatments rely on your immune system to be responsive.
What do warts on the feet look & feel like?
Typically, warts appear in the form of multiple tiny skin papules which are rough to tough.
They can grow up to an inch or more, occurring alone or with smaller warts clustered nearby.
Warts present as a cauliflower appearance with an uneven, bubbly surface.
Tiny red or black dots are often seen in the wart due to its own blood supply. Warts also tend to be painful to pinch or when squeezed, where as corns tend to be painful on direct palpation.
How can a Podiatrist help treat a wart?
There are many ways to treat warts, depending on their size and location.
The treatment of plantar warts can be difficult. Podiatrist are aware of the different treatment options and the most up to date modalities available, and offer a combination of these to help treat get rid of the wart.
The Podiatrist begins by debriding the hard skin overlying the wart, before applying the treatment. Some common treatment options include:
Salicylic acid and nitric acid
– salicylic acid and nitric acid works to remove warts by exfoliating the wart skin cells. The acid may also trigger an immune response to build healthy skin cells in the area. With continued and regular application, the salicylic acid will often remove the wart. After applying the salicylic acid to the wart, the wart will be covered and it is advised to keep the dressing on for at least 3 days or as long as you can.
– cryotherapy involves ‘freezing’ the wart. It involves applying liquid nitrogen, a very cold substance to the wart, resulting in the wart freezing off. The extreme cold burns the skin, causing pain, redness and usually a blister. Getting rid of the wart usually takes three or four treatments, on every week.
– Silver nitrate and nitric acid works by destroying the thin layers of skin at a time. As the layers of skin dies, the next layer must then be applied to ensure penetration of the verruca tissue continues. As the virus lives in the surface layers of the skin, not deep in the root, it doesn’t take long to get rid of a wart using this process. This treatment is not painful and is conservative in comparison to cryotherapy.
If you or anyone you know thinks they may have a wart, please do not hesitate to come down to The Footcare Clinic. We can assess the problem and determine whether it is a wart and will let you know what the best treatment option for you would be.