It is always nice to escape our cold Canadian winter for warmer temperatures and sunshine.  Catching some rays and taking a dip in a refreshing swimming pool usually means our bare feet are exposed.  Unfortunately, public spaces, such as a pool deck could be a breeding ground for skin infections and result in catching a common skin lesion, known as a wart.

Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and they are contagious, meaning they can be spread from person to person.  They can develop anywhere on the body including the sole of the foot.   Plantar warts, referred to as verruca plantaris in the medical world, can be pesky and hard to eradicate. Children and teenagers tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults.

BioPed’s Medical Footcare Clinicians are trained and equipped to treat warts but commonly find their clients mistake warts for corns.  It is imperative to know what condition you have before initiating any treatment.

What causes warts? 

Walking barefoot on surfaces where the HPV may be lurking will increase your risk for exposure.  HPV thrives in moist, warm environments, such as pool decks, locker room floors and showers.  There are over a hundred different strains of this virus, but only a few are linked to warts on the feet.  Not everyone who is exposed to HPV will develop a wart.  A weak immune system or a break in the exposed skin can increase a person’s risk for developing a wart.

If left untreated, warts can grow and become quite large and they can also spread into clusters of several warts which are called mosaic warts.  Although rare, warts can become cancerous if left untreated, making diagnosis and treatment even more important.

Warts and corns can be confused as they often have a similar appearance.  A corn is caused by friction and pressure; related to the way we walk and the types of footwear we choose.   They develop over time and typically do not spontaneously disappear.

What do warts look like?

Plantar warts are usually flat on the surface and may have a cauliflower-like texture.  Squeezing or applying pressure at the sides can elicit pain.  Plantar warts often contain tiny black dots in the centre.  These dots indicate bleeding from the smallest blood vessels in our body and are a common feature of warts.  Warts need a supply of blood to feed the virus and keep it alive.

How are warts treated?

If you suspect you have a wart, it is always best to have it assessed to determine it is in fact a wart.  At-home treatments do exist, but they need to be used with caution.  Salicylic acid is a treatment that can be purchased over-the-counter and is applied to the wart as a solution or a cream and is then covered.

How BioPed can help

If at-home treatment is not working, BioPed Registered Chiropodists and Advanced Footcare Nurses use a variety of treatment options that are not available at drugstores and often, not through primary care providers.