Plantar warts, meaning ‘warts on the bottom of the feet’, are no stranger around here. We see plenty of warts every week, especially in kids and regular gym-goers who regularly share public changing rooms and showers. When patients come in for treatment, there are plenty of questions about warts, one of which is always whether their warts are contagious and could spread to other family members.
So today, we thought we’d answer this and all the wart FAQ’s we get. If we’ve missed anything, send us a message via our Facebook page and let us know!
Are warts contagious?
Yes, plantar warts can and do spread within households from direct contact. This is because the type of virus that causes warts in the feet specifically, called HPV (human papillomavirus), is a contagious virus that thrives in warm and moist places - like your shower or if sharing a pair of shoes. You don’t need to have direct contact with a virus to become infected - sharing the same floor (especially bathrooms) where you’re both standing in bare feet is enough.
What do warts look like?
Warts look like grainy, often circular lesions that may protrude from the skin or sit at a similar level to the skin. Warts often feel rough and may have some thick callus covering them. You may see some small dots within the wart, which are small clotted blood vessels, as the wart has a blood supply. Many people have trouble differentiating warts from corns.
Are warts dangerous?
No, warts are not dangerous in the sense that they cannot lead to life-threatening problems or diseases. Warts can, however, become incredibly painful or uncomfortable if they appear on an area of the foot on which you bear weight while walking - at the ball of the foot or your heel. The pain and changing the way you walk to reduce the pain from the wart may put you at risk of injury.
Why do warts hurt?
Imagine walking on a small pebble embedded into your foot with every step. Sounds painful, right? This is essentially what happens with a wart, except instead of a pebble, it is a firm mass of skin embedded into your foot - the wart. Once the wart is gone, there will no longer be any pain.
Can warts from the feet spread to the hands?
If you have the HPV virus in your system, then warts can appear on other parts of your body, like your hands and knees. Warts aren’t isolated to just one part of your body but arise from the virus in your body.
How do you kill warts?
We offer multiple ways to treat plantar warts. The best option for you will depend on your unique circumstances, how many warts you have, how long they’ve been present for and whether you need to wart gone ASAP with a more invasive treatment or you’re happy for a gentler treatment applied more often. We offer:
- Salicylic acid or silver nitrate - applied on top of the wart.
- Cryotherapy - freezing the wart.
- VISIT multi-puncture treatment - using a fine needle.
- Curettage - using a minor surgery to scoop out the wart.
Will warts go away on their own?
Warts can go away on their own, but this is entirely unpredictable - warts can be present for months and years and cause ongoing pain the entire time. To add to the pain, warts can quickly build a layer of callus over them due to their pressure while walking. The more you walk on it, the thicker and more painful the callus becomes. Over time, the thickness of the callus can be much more painful than the original wart itself.
How can you remove warts at home?
Many pharmacies sell wart pads and creams, but we advise against using these. They are often acid-based and leak onto the healthy skin surrounding the wart, causing damage to otherwise healthy skin. This can be extremely painful and very dangerous if you have certain conditions like diabetes. We always recommend having your wart professionally removed by your podiatrist, who is very experienced and knowledgeable in treating warts.
Need your wart gone?
If you have a wart on your foot and you need it gone, our team at South Burnett Podiatry are here to help. We’ve been helping our community treat warts, alongside a range of other foot and leg problems, for over 20 years.
Book your appointment by calling us on (07) 4162 7633.