Get the Facts on Foot Warts

doctor inspecting foot wart

The human body is full of wonders, but warts are not one of them. This skin condition causes abnormal growths to appear that can be both unsightly as well as painful. They are the result of an infection from one of many strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

So, what’s the deal with these pesky bumps, and what can be done about them? Let’s take a look at some fast facts about warts that can plague your feet and legs.

What are some of the common types of warts that appear on the feet and legs?

Most times when people think about foot warts, they’re thinking about what’s known as a plantar wart (known medically as verruca). These warts appear on weight-bearing areas of the foot and look like a thick patch of skin—usually about the size of a pencil eraser—with a dark speck in the middle, giving it the nickname seed wart.

Plantar warts may be confused with calluses, a thickening of the skin from friction, but calluses are not caused by HPV. Additionally, the aforementioned dark speck found would not be present if the spot in question was callused.

However, plantar warts are not the only type of wart that can be found on feet and ankles. Other types can include:

Flat warts: Flat warts are flat-topped warts that are roughly the size of a pinhead. These flesh or brown/yellow-colored bumps appear in large numbers—anywhere from 20 to 200—usually around places where there’s been a break in skin, such as shaving nicks.

Periungual warts: These warts can appear around the toenails (though they are more common in people who bite their fingernails). They start off small and slowly grow into rough bumps that look like cauliflower. If left untreated, periungual warts can potentially cause disfigurement to the nails or nail beds as well as infection.

Do warts need to be treated?

Eventually, most warts do go away on their own. That said, it could take a couple years for that to actually happen, during which time the warts could cause other complications or spread to other parts of the body.

Are warts contagious?

Yes. By leaving them untreated, you run the risk of spreading the virus to other people in your family or in communal areas, such as a gym shower or locker room. Conversely, these are also the same kinds of places where you can contract the virus in the first place.

How are warts on the feet and legs treated?

There are a number of over-the-counter and home remedies that can remove warts, like wart removers or applying duct tape to the wart. However, you may have to repeat the treatments numerous times before they disappear and they can reappear.

So, your best chance for getting the warts taken care of quickly and effectively is by visiting a specialist for treatment. Treatments a doctor can perform include:

  • Applying liquid nitrogen to the wart(s) with a cotton swab or spray so a blister forms around the wart(s) and causes the dead tissue inside to slough off (a procedure known as cryotherapy)
  • Immune therapy via injection, topical solution or topical cream to stimulate the immune system to fight the HPV infection
  • Prescribing stronger salicylic acid products that help to remove layers of the wart or certain topical creams
  • Shaving the surface of the wart and applying trichloroacetic acid using a wooden toothpick
  • Using a type of laser therapy known as pulsed dye laser therapy to cut off the wart’s blood supply, forcing the tissue to die and fall off

If you suspect that you’re developing a wart on your foot or leg, or already have one, don’t wait for it to go away. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our wart-removal specialists!