Plantar Warts

One of the most common reasons for a visit to a podiatrist is the treatment of plantar warts. Plantar means the bottom of the foot, but warts can appear in other places as well.  There are more than 30 different types of wart viruses. Plantar warts are usually caused by walking barefoot around a swimming pool, on the beach or outdoors where these microscopic viruses are on the ground.

Warts are often treated with over-the-counter topical acid creams or patches, duct tape or other home remedies. Warts spontaneously resolve in more than 50 percent of cases according to the literature.

Many pediatricians and dermatologists use liquid nitrogen on other parts of the body, but this painful treatment has a very low success rate on the bottom of the foot.  Warts on the bottom of the foot are much more resistant to treatment than warts on other parts of the body. One reason for this may be due to the skin being thicker on the bottom of the foot.  Blood vessels and nerve endings looping up into the wart, which make them more persistent and more painful.

Dr. John Hoy of Seattle Foot and Ankle Center is board certified in the medical and surgical treatment of warts.

There are many, many treatment options available for warts.  The article above showcases one practice’s algorithm.  We find that aggressive treatment using a variety of methods is effective, even though it may take awhile and can be quite frustrating.

We generally recommend conservative care prior to surgical excision.  This includes topical treatments in combination with sharp debridement by Dr. Hoy in his Seattle, Washington office, taking off the callus buildup.  These treatments include:

  1. High level salicyclic acid to kill the virus by burning them chemically
  2. Zinc sulfate supplements to boost the body’s immune system
  3. Prescription creams with antiviral activity
  4. Cauterizing agents to burn the warts in the office
  5. Freezing used as an adjunct or as an alternative in pregnant or lactating mothers
  6. Surgical excision