Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are benign skin growths that occur on the sole of your foot and mainly on the ball of the foot and on heels, due to the pressure of body weight. Plantar warts are pushed inward,  causing pain when standing or walking. The skin disease is caused by human papillomaviruses which infect keratinocytes in the epidermis. The transmission usually takes place when walking barefoot, for example in the swimming pool, in communal showers or in the family. The treatment is often carried out by icing, keratolysis with salicylic acid or acid burns. The warts can also be removed or cut out with a small operation. Warts will go away on their own over time. However, this can take months to years.

Plantar Warts Symptoms

Plantar warts (pierced warts, plantar warts) are mostly single, flat skin changes with a gray or yellowish-brown color that appear on the soles of the feet. They tend to form where the soles of the feet are exposed to high pressure, i.e. on the toes, heels and balls of the feet, usually below a callus. If the callus is not too thick, you can sometimes see dark dots in the changed skin area. These are the result of small bleeding into the skin.

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Piercing warts do not necessarily have to cause discomfort. In deep-rooted plantar warts, however, the runners often reach into the dermis or the fatty and connective tissue in the subcutaneous tissue. If the appendages reach close to the nerve endings, plantar warts can cause severe, stabbing pain when stepped on or when pressure is applied – similar to kicking a thorn.

Plantar warts (pierced warts, plantar warts) often heal spontaneously within about 2 years – this is especially the case with children. Therapy is recommended if the warts cause pain or multiply. Treatment, however, is often lengthy and requires patience from the person affected. In addition, plantar warts reappear in many sufferers after treatment.

Mosaic Warts

Plantar warts can also grow superficially as so-called mosaic warts and appear in beds like beds. Such mosaic warts do not appear individually, but in large numbers. They have a smaller diameter than individual plantar warts and are often only the size of a pinhead. Mosaic warts are usually not painful because they do not grow in depth.

Plantar Warts Causes

The cause of the disease is an infection of the keratinocytes in the epidermis of the skin with different types of human papillomaviruses (especially HPV 1, 2, 4, 27 and 57). The DNA viruses penetrate the tissue through small injuries, softened skin or cracks. The infection leads to hyperplasia (cell proliferation), thickening and hyperkeratosis of the epithelium. Due to the pressure of the body weight, the wart is pressed into the dermis and cannot grow outwards.

The flaked skin flakes are infectious. The transmission typically takes place in the swimming pool, in communal showers, in locker rooms, in gyms or in the family. Walking barefoot is an important risk factor. The viruses are also rarely passed on from person to person. Anyone who has ever had a wart is more susceptible.

Plantar warts (pierced warts, plantar warts) are caused by an infection with certain human papillomaviruses (HPV). The viruses are transmitted through contact and smear infections.

However, if the soles of the feet come into contact with the virus, this does not automatically mean that plantar warts are forming. First the viruses have to get into the body. Possible entry points are, for example:

  • Cracks in dry, rough skin
  • Small cuts or scratches
  • Softened, wavy skin (from moisture, e.g. after a long bath)

After that, it depends on the one hand on how fit the immune system is at the time of infection. On the other hand, those HPV types that lead to plantar warts are not very contagious (so-called “low-risk” HPV). Direct skin contact is therefore not necessarily contagious, but only when various factors come together. It can take weeks to months until plantar warts form after infection.

Plantar Warts Treatment: Doctor

If the self-treatment of plantar warts does not work, a doctor’s visit is recommended. Doctors also have other methods available to remove plantar warts, such as cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen, laser therapy or surgical measures. Usually one of the following methods (individually or in combination) is used to remove plantar warts.

Local treatment with an active ingredient. To get rid of the plantar warts, treatment can be done with one of the following active ingredients:

  • Salicylic acid, in the form of a patch or tincture, to dissolve the cornea on the area
  • 5-fluorouracil has an inhibitory effect on the plantar wart viruses. The prescription solution is applied three times a day. It forms a kind of layer that is removed before it is reapplied. So that the surrounding tissue is not affected by the active ingredient, you can apply petroleum jelly or zinc paste around the plantar wart
  • Imiquimod works by stimulating the immune system to release cytokines. These stimulate the immune system to act against the viruses
  • Cold therapy (cryotherapy)
  • Liquid nitrogen is applied to the plantar wart, which freezes the wart up to its extremities, triggers an inflammatory reaction and causes the tissue to die. After a few days, the dead tissue will loosen on its own and fall off
  • Laser treatment: The doctor irradiates the plantar wart with a laser, destroying the affected skin cells, which can then be removed
  • Curettage: With this method, the affected, locally anesthetized area is scraped out with a “surgical spoon”. Depending on the size of the plantar wart, several sessions may be necessary

Treat Plantar Warts: Home Remedies

Apple, onion, garlic and banana peel: On the Internet you can find numerous suggestions on how to treat plantar warts with home remedies – for example by attaching pieces of apple, onion, garlic or even banana peel (with the inside on the skin) to the plantar wart overnight (e.g. with a Plaster) and let it work. The idea behind it: The anti-inflammatory and / or antiviral substances contained in it should help to get rid of the plantar warts.

Tea Tree Oil: Some also recommend tea tree oil as a home remedy. To do this, attach an oil-soaked cotton ball or cotton pad to the wart and let the oil work overnight. Since tea tree oil has been shown to work against bacteria and viruses, it may also help against plantar warts. Important: tea tree oil should only be applied diluted. In the long run, undiluted, the oil is too irritating to the skin.

Lemon Juice: Due to the acidity, some people also use lemon juice as a home remedy for plantar warts and leave it on overnight using a soaked cotton wool pad. To protect the surrounding skin from citric acid, the area around the plantar wart can be covered with vaseline or another fatty cream, for example.

There are no meaningful studies on effectiveness. However, none of these methods have been scientifically proven or not sufficiently proven. If you want to try home remedies for plantar warts, you should also be patient and persistent. Because you probably have to use these methods every day for weeks, if not months. Since plantar warts often go away on their own, it is also difficult to say with hindsight whether the home remedy that was used for weeks contributed to this or whether the wart simply healed on its own.

Duct Tape: Adhesive tape should also help against plantar warts. This tip probably originally came from the United States, where, for example, the sticking of so-called duct tape, i.e. a stronger adhesive tissue tape or duct tape, is recommended as a home remedy. According to study results, however, tearing off the adhesive tape can injure or irritate the skin and / or plantar wart and is therefore rather not recommended.

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