Most people will develop one or more warts on their feet at least once in their lifetimes. And while foot warts may not be as “serious” as, say, an ankle sprain, they can still be irritating, embarrassing, and sometimes painful.
Worse, warts can spread to other areas of your body (or even other people), and traditionally have been very resistant to treatment. That is, until now.
We’re proud to be the first clinic in Texas using a new wart treatment called Swift, which we’ll talk more about in a moment. First, let’s take a closer look at the condition itself.
Plantar Wart Symptoms
The most recognizable symptom of a plantar wart is the lesion itself. These viral growths have a rough, grainy appearance. Although warts can appear anywhere on the body, the term plantar warts specifically refers to warts of the feet, and they often tend to be found on the toes or soles.
It is often possible to see tiny black dots, which some mistakenly call “seeds.” In fact, these are simply tiny, clotted blood vessels.
When a plantar wart is positioned in a weight-bearing location, or at a point that is constantly rubbing against the inside of your shoe, it can result in tenderness, discomfort, or even pain while standing or walking.
Where Plantar Warts Come From
Contrary to popular myth, the root cause of warts is not frogs or witches. Instead, they are caused by a fairly common virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV).
This virus thrives in environments that are warm and moist. Sweaty shoes, pool decks, and locker rooms can harbor HPV.
Since HPV requires an entrance point into the skin, individuals who have cuts, cracks, scrapes, or skin that has become softened and fragile from time in water are especially at risk. That said, sometimes these weak points are so small you can’t even really detect them.
Anyone can get a wart, but they are especially common in children, elderly people, and those with conditions that compromise immune system function.
Plantar Wart Treatment
Can I Treat My Wart at Home?
It is important to begin by saying that you should not attempt to treat these viral growths on your own if you have diabetes. When you find one during the course of your daily foot inspection, cover the wart with a clean bandage (to prevent the virus from spreading) and contact our office to make an appointment.
If you do not have a condition like diabetes that affects your autoimmune system, you may attempt to use home treatment practices if you wish. These include over-the-counter (OTC) kits found in retail stores and pharmacies. When using OTC kits, be sure to take precautions to protect unaffected skin from salicylic acid.
However, it’s worth noting that home treatments for warts have not shown to be much better than simply waiting for warts to go away on their own—a process which may take months. So if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort, or embarrassment and you just want them gone, you are much better off coming to see us for an appointment.
The Swift Treatment System
Swift is a new treatment protocol for warts that offers our patients significantly faster, easier, safer, and more effective results for wart removal that previous methods, such as using peeling chemicals or cryotherapy.
The procedure itself only takes a couple of seconds. Using a handheld tool, we deliver lower-power microwave energy to the layers of skin surrounding the wart. The microwaves excite water molecules and generate heat and friction, which in turn draws in proteins and activates your immune system.
This is critical, as the immune system normally ignores the layers of skin where warts form. That’s why warts take so long to go away on their own! But with Swift, you direct your body’s attention exactly where it needs to go, and help it quickly build up an immunity to the strand of HPV causing your wart. In short order, the virus is cured and your body can start re-growing new, healthy tissue.
Aside from minor discomfort during the 2-3 seconds of application (which is similar to an injection), the Swift treatment is not painful and should not produce any lingering symptoms. No anesthetic is required, no downtime or follow-up care is necessary, and most (although not all) people only need a single treatment.
If you’d like more detailed information about how Swift works, please check out our blog or view the video on this page!
Wart Prevention Tactics
Although we can provide effective care for a plantar wart here in our office, we find that most patients would simply prefer not to get one in the first place. You can reduce your odds of ending up with a wart by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Avoid making direct contact with a wart, including your own. If you do, be sure to wash your hands (or other body parts) carefully.
- Wear shower shoes or sandals in common areas where the wart-causing virus can be found, including gym showers and indoor swimming pools.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- Wear fresh socks every day.
- Do not use the same equipment on your healthy skin that you used on a wart. (Using a disposable emery board is one way to avoid this situation.)
Professional Treatment for Plantar Warts in Austin, TX
Contact our office by calling (512) 328-8900 for additional information or to schedule an appointment. You can also request your visit with Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists online today.