Painful Warts

A wart is an infection caused by a virus (human papilloma virus), which can invade your skin through small cuts or breaks. The wart will develop into a hard, rough growth on the surface of the skin. It is most often seen on the bottom of the foot (plantar wart), but may also be on the top. Children, teens, and people with allergies or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the wart virus.


♦ Symptoms:

Warts may appear spongy, usually white with tiny red, brown, or black spots. Their growth can be up to a couple of cm or more across, occurring alone or with smaller warts clustered nearby. They are sometimes mistaken for corns or calluses. They can persist for years and recur in the same spot. If not treated, they can spread to other areas of the foot or even to the hands and other parts of the body.

♦ Diagnosis:

The wart will be carefully examined to determine that it is not a corn or a callus. One way to distinguish between the two is that the skin lines of the area will not be broken if it is a corn or callus, whereas the skin lines will be broken or deviate around an area if a wart is present.

♦ Treatment:

There are many ways to treat warts, depending on their size and location. Medication or surgical removal, or both, may be effective treatments. A few of the possible treatment methods are described below:

• Debridement of the area via a scalpel blade to rid the overlying covering and expose the wart. Then one or both of the following will be used:

- Cryotherapy (freezing) - A liquefied gas mixture is applied to the area which freezes the cells of the area which gradually kills the wart without the formation of scar tissue.

- Medication – acidic medication (i.e. Silver Nitrate, Salicylic Acid) is applied on the wart. This may need to be repeated over several weeks.

- Needling (Multiple Puncture Technique): This technique has of late been shown to be the most effective technique in ridding stubborn and / or multiple warts. This method involves anaesthetising the local area via an injection of an anaesthetic agent (i.e. Xylocaine) so as no further discomfort is felt during the procedure. A needle is then used to puncture through the wart multiple times (no pain is felt) to impair the structure of the wart as well as help initiate / stimulate your body's immune response in attacking the wart virus and subsequently eradicating the wart. In the case of multiple warts, the treatment targeted towards just one of the warts is enough to stimulate the immune response to also target the non-needled warts, thus the eradication of usually all other warts. There is usually little to no discomfort after the procedure. There is also no scarring associated with this procedure.

• In some (rare) cases the wart can be removed with a small instrument. A local anaesthetic is often used with this procedure to lessen the pain. This degree of treatment is rarely necessary.

♦ Future Care:

It is important to protect your feet from future infection by ensuring they are clean and dry. In public places, do not go barefoot in the shower, gyms or locker rooms. Always wear thongs or sandals on your feet. Also avoid pedicure type places which may use items which could be harbouring the wart virus.