What Are Warts?
A wart (or medically referred to as verrucae) is an infection caused by a virus, which can invade your skin through small cuts or breaks. Over time, the wart develops into a hard, rough growth on the surface of the skin. A wart is most commonly seen on the bottom of the foot (known as a plantar wart) but can also appear on the top. Children, teens, and people with allergies or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the wart virus.
Warts may appear spongy, with tiny red, brown, or black spots. They can grow up to an inch or more across, occurring alone (solitary) or with smaller warts clustered nearby (mosaic). Warts are sometimes mistaken for corns or calluses. They can persist for years and recur in the same spot. If left untreated, warts can spread to other parts of the foot or even to the hands or other areas of the body.
The most important treatment is to know you are treating a wart and not a corn or callus. Our Podiatrists can examine your wart carefully to determine that it is not a corn or a callus. A wart will usually feel painful when a podiatrist squeezes it from side to side. To examine the wart further, the hard skin layer around it may need to be trimmed by our podiatrists. A wart will have certain spots that bleed when trimmed; a callus will not.
How Can Our Podiatrists Treat Warts?
There are many ways to treat verrucae (warts), depending on their size and location. Medications, needling, surgical removal (curettage), or a combination, may be effective treatments to remove warts. A few of the possible treatment methods are described below; freezing (cryotherapy) or burning may also be used to treat warts. Even after warts are removed, they may recur.
Medication– The wart is broken down by applying an acidic medication. Blister-forming medication may also be used. Treatment may need to be repeated over several weeks.
Curettage – The wart is removed with a small, spoon shaped instrument (curette). To lessen pain, a local anaesthetic is used with this surgical procedure (see below example of several mosaic warts that were curettage by Reza Naraghi, our Podiatric Surgeon. Please be assured that if you are at all anxious with the procedure or have a needle phobia we can administer Penthrox inhaler (known as ‘happy gas’). Dr Reza Naraghi being a podiatric surgeon can also issue oral sedation medication to help with local anaesthetic injections.
Needling-This treatment allows an immune system response to stimulate the body to fight and remove the wart virus. Please refer to Dr Naraghi’s research paper in Journal of American Podiatric Medical Association where needling versus liquid nitrogen cryotherapy for the Treatment of Pedal Warts was researched.
What Can I Do About Warts?
After your podiatrist treats your warts, protect your feet from future infection by keeping them clean and dry. If you’re thinking of using over-the-counter medications for warts, ask your podiatrist first. Some of these treatments can damage skin – and may be dangerous if you have diabetes or poor circulation.
Avoid going barefoot in public places like showers, gyms, and locker rooms. The wart virus may spread easily in settings like these, so it is recommended to wear thongs or sandals on your feet.
Figure 1: Example of Plantar Warts Treatment:
This is an example of several severe plantar warts (called mosaic warts) before and after treatment. It is quite an extensive case and shows the significant results of treatment by our Podiatrists. This case was performed by Dr Reza Naraghi who is a podiatric surgeon who works from the rooms at Foot Focus Podiatry.