Plantar wart (verruca pedis) is a skin infection caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and passes between the people through direct contact to the viral particles (skin-to-skin contact), but can be also transmitted by indirect contact such as walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces (public areas including locker rooms, shower, gym, etc.), socks, shoes, towels and sport equipment. Some activities such as picking at warts with fingernails or objects such as nail clipper or pumice stone can also result in transference of infection to hands or other parts of the body. Patients should be encouraged to wear proper foot coverings like shower shoes or sandals when walking on possibly contaminated surfaces in public areas to avoid any direct skin contact. To have the plantar wart, there should be some degrees of skin impairment such as abrasion, cut or maceration (too much moist), so the virus can enter the skin and reach the stem cells at the basal membrane of the skin. That explains why swimming pools and shower rooms are a hotspot for getting plantar wart as the skin becomes softer in contact with water and just a tiny hole can be a portal of entry for the virus. As the skin cells shed, viral particles are released and can be transmitted to surfaces where the virus will remain until picked up by a new host or spread to adjacent sites.
Any item that comes into contact with a wart should be thoroughly washed with hot water and soap. If you have a plantar wart, it is a good idea to cover it with tape, or “verruca socks”, and pool-side sandals if you go to a public area such as the swimming pool. Moreover, simple domestic hygiene such as cleaning the baths or showers after use and avoiding shared towels or socks are important to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. And, if the wart is under or around the nails, biting the nails must be avoided or the virus can easily cause oral wart infection.
Causes of Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are spread through contact. This means if a person with a plantar wart uses a public shower without wearing shoes, other people using the shower may pick up the virus. The virus needs a way in, though. (Only if your foot comes in contact with the virus at the point where the skin is cracked or cut can the virus enter your body.) Even still, every immune system reacts differently to this strain of HPV. Coming in contact with it does not necessarily mean you will develop a plantar wart.
You are more susceptible to plantar warts if you:
- Have had plantar warts in the past
- Have a weak immune system
- Are a child or teenager
- Routinely walk barefoot in areas prone to having the virus (i.e., public pools, showers, or saunas.
Conventional Treatments for Plantar Warts
There are several conventional treatments doctors have used and continue to use, which are designed to remove the affected tissue. They remain available if you prefer. These include:
- Salicylic acid or other types of acid
- Laser treatment
- Cryotherapy (freezing the area)
- Surgical excision
Salicylic Acid works to eat away at the tough, calloused skin covering the wart and eventually eat away at the wart itself. Cryotherapy involves freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen.