Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are Plantar warts Restricting Your Activities?

By Willis Green

In the United States, 7% - 10% of the population has warts. In fact, warts are the most common of all skin infections. Plantar warts are non-cancerous growths that appear on the plantar surface of the foot -- typically on the sole, the heel, or the ball of the foot. You will typically see small black dots in the wart which are actually blood vessel capillaries. These nourish the wart. As for size, plantar warts can start very small but occasionally grow to cover most of the sole of the foot.

Plantar warts often cause pain, especially when located over bony areas of the foot. They don't always present as raised bumps because they have been forced to grow downward, into your foot, due to the pressure of walking. Most sufferers will agree that these warts are notoriously hard to treat.

What is the cause? . . The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) invades the body through tiny cuts or breaks in the skin on the bottom of the feet. This common virus can be found in public showers, pools, locker rooms and even on city sidewalks. It can incubate for up to 20 months before warts actually appear on your foot. This makes it almost impossible to determine when or where the initial infection actually took place. In some cases, the HPV virus dies within 1 or 2 years, and the warts will just gradually disappear.

Unfortunately no conclusive evidence exists that any treatment eliminates HPV infection -- or even decreases its ability to spread. So don't be too surprised that warts may recur even after successful treatment. This is because of (re)activation of latent virus present in healthy skin adjacent to the lesion. If precautions are not taken, then re-infection from the above-mentioned sources is also very possible. Although the warts are usually self-limiting, healthcare professionals usually recommend that they be removed. This is to lessen symptoms (which often include pain), to decrease their duration, and to reduce transmission and spreading. Keep in mind that the HPV virus is very contagious. It can spread quickly to other parts of the foot, or even to other people.

Natural, effective remedies abound. Most take time, attention, and patience. Traditional medical remedies include topical applications (usually acid), surgery, or freezing of the lesions by a doctor. One recent study actually found that duct tape was more effective than many of the medical treatments. [However the adhesive in duct tape may be toxic to humans?.]

Because contact with moist walking surfaces can spread HPV, these lesions can be prevented by not walking barefoot in public showers, around pools nor in gymnasium locker rooms. Also, do not share shoes or socks, and avoid direct contact with warts appearing elsewhere on your body and warts on other people. Keeping your shoes and socks dry and clean is essential to limiting recurrance and spread.

Any Cautions? Just a few. If left untreated, these warts may develop into pre-cancerous lesions -- however, this is very rare. If your warts are really painful, if they get bigger, if they refuse to go away over time, then see a healthcare professional. Also, if you have diabetes or circulation problems, consult your doctor. He or she will help you determine the safest treatment option.

Conclusion : It's extremely difficult to avoid contracting the virus that causes plantar warts. Treatment or removal is very important. A plantar wart can be extremely painful if left untreated. Though self-limiting (2 years), you should probably still treat your plantar warts in order to lessen your symptoms, decrease their duration, and reduce their spread and transmission to other people.

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