What Is It?
Warts are small skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which infects the top layer of skin. There are more than 40 different types of HPV, some that can affect the feet. The virus can be transmitted from person to person either by direct contact, or indirectly when both people come in contact with a surface, such as a floor or desk, which is why it is so common. People may come into contact with this virus by walking barefoot in public places, such as gyms. It can also be transmitted in the same person from one spot on the body to another. It is easier for the virus to enter your system if the skin is scratched or cut.
Warts can appear at any age. However, they are more common in older children and are less common in the elderly. A wart’s appearance varies with its location and the type of virus that has caused it. Most go away after a year or two, but some can last for years or come back after going away. Warts can cause itching or bleeding. When warts are located in areas that are rubbed against clothing or bumped frequently, they can become irritated.
The two types of warts seen most often are common warts and plantar warts.
- Common warts have a rough surface and well-defined borders and usually do not hurt. They are round or irregular in shape and usually range from 2 millimeters to 10 millimeters wide (the size of a pencil eraser or smaller). They are firm and can be light gray, flesh-colored, yellow, brown or gray-black. They occur most often near the fingernails and on the backs of the hands, but they also can appear on the elbows and knees.
- Plantar warts appear on the bottom of the foot. They are flattened by the pressure of standing on them and can be dotted with tiny, clotted blood vessels that look like dark pinpoints. These warts often are painful, especially when they are located on a weight-bearing part of the foot. Plantar warts may require vigorous, repeated treatment before they go away.
Other types of warts include:
- Mosaic warts appear on the feet. They are groups of many small, closely set plantar warts.
A doctor usually can diagnose warts by simply looking at them. Sometimes, the doctor will have to take some tissue from a wart and analyze it under a microscope to determine it’s specifics.
Warts may disappear without treatment in months or years. However, there is always a chance they will come back.
It is difficult to prevent warts. Avoid skin contact with existing warts and with contaminated floors to reduce risk.
Most warts disappear within a year or two, even if untreated. However, without treatment warts may spread. Many people choose to have warts treated because of minor pain or for cosmetic reasons. Treatment depends on the location of the wart, its type and size, a patient’s age and health, and his or her willingness and ability to follow through with repeated treatments.
Warts typically disappear within a year or two and are a little more than an inconvenience. But because they shed virus particles into the surrounding area, they are contagious and can cause new warts to appear. Warts may be a chronic problem for some people and not go away or may continue getting new warts. Warts that continue to persist or grow despite treatment should be examined by a doctor since some skin cancers can look similar to warts.