Do you have warts on your feet or toes that you want to get rid of? We provide comprehensive treatment for plantar’s warts and other types of unsightly foot growths. Dr. Ken Dennis is a board certified podiatrist treating foot disease and conditions like plantar’s warts with inpatient and outpatient procedures including prescription medication, formaldehyde topical treatment, cryotherapy to freeze the wart off, surgical wart removal, vitamin A therapy, tagamet, and even duct tape treatment. You may be a good candidate for one or several types of combined treatment.
Is Surgical Removal Recommended for Plantar’s Warts?
Dr. Dennis believes that surgical treatment should always be the last resort because of the increased risk of side effects and possible complications. However, most wart removal surgery is a localized outpatient procedure that does not require anesthesia, only local numbing agent. The reduced risk of outpatient surgery and cosmetic concerns most have regarding warts make surgical treatment to remove the warts the preferred option for most patients.
What Causes Warts on Feet & Toes?
A wart is caused by a virus. This virus is everywhere. It is on all of our skin, all of the time. It cannot grow on the outside of the skin, it has to have a break in the skin in order to set up house. This is why warts are very common on the bottom of the foot.
A foot is warm and damp and receives a lot of micro-trauma resulting in excellent avenues for the wart virus to gain entrance and begin to grow. Our immune system fights this virus similar to our body’s ability to keep us from catching the flu or a cold. This is why children are more susceptible to warts (their immune system has not been challenged as much). The wart virus is completely benign. If the area is not painful, and is not growing, a very reasonable treatment is to simply leave it alone. Often, they will resolve on their own over a period of 1 – 2 years. However, if they are painful &/or multiplying, they need to be treated. There are as many different treatments for warts as there are wives’ tales about warts. The key to treatment is patience, persistence and follow-up.
Common Foot & Plantar’s Wart Treatment Options
- Keeping Feet Dry – It is critically important to keep the feet dry, because the virus flourishes in a damp environment. This is often done by simply spraying an antiperspirant spray on the feet every morning. Do not use powders as powder is great at absorbing moisture, and then holding it next to the skin for the rest of the day. In extreme cases there’s a prescription (Drysol) that can be used to help dry the feet out.
- Formaldehyde– I often recommend applying formaldehyde solution over the area on a daily basis to help dry out the skin around the wart. It is applied daily after bathing. If the skin becomes dry, cracked, or uncomfortable; take a few days off. Some people only need to apply this 2 – 3 times each week.
- Trichloroacetic acid – Acid concentrations found in over-the-counter medicines are normally ~ 40%. The acid used here in the office is over 90%. This treatment focuses on systematically trimming off the dead skin and applying acid to kill the wart virus. The patient is seen in the office every 3 – 5 weeks, to remove the dead skin and apply the medicine. Home treatment in conjunction with this is critical to success. The benefit of this treatment plan is there is no pain involved and it can therefore it can be used during an athletic season, for anyone who needs to be on their feet at work, or anyone who does not have the time to heal from surgical treatment.
- 40% Salicylic Acid Plaster – This is an over-the-counter application of acid similar to what is described above. Sometimes this strength of acid is difficult to find, so ask the pharmacist. This medicine is placed over the wart at night, and I recommend leaving the dressing in place literally until it falls off. Sometimes it comes off in the shower the next morning; sometimes it will stay in place for 3 – 4 days. If the area becomes tender, take a couple of days off. Every 10 days to 2 weeks an area of skin will peel off, and the process begins again.
- Duct tape – There was a study in 2005 in the Dermatology Journal, which reviewed the application of a small piece of duct tape over the wart. The duct tape was left in place until it fell off; and then reapplied. The concept behind this treatment is that the adhesive in the duct tape is an irritant and as the body tries to reject the irritating adhesive, the virus gets caught in the middle and killed. The study showed almost 80% success with this treatment for 6-8 weeks.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A stimulates the immune system. This can be found over-the-counter; look for tablets that are 25,000 units. Take one pill each day with food for three weeks. This is a large dose of vitamin A, and therefore should not be taken for more than 3 weeks. DO NOT USE VITAMIN A IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE OF BEING PREGNANT! Vitamin A is more effective in kids than adults, but it can be a very effective adjunctive treatment.
- Cryotherapy (Freezing) – The application of liquid nitrogen is a very effective treatment and is probably the standard of care anywhere else on the body. However, on the bottom of the foot, this can be quite painful! This treatment is used in the office, normally in conjunction with Trichloroacetic acid, but because the skin on the bottom of the foot is so thick, freezing can be uncomfortable. It normally takes 4 – 6 treatments to be effective.
- Tagamet – Although this is an “off label” treatment, the use of cimetidine 200 mg each day for ~ 6 weeks has shown significant results in helping the body fight and resolve warts. This is available over-the-counter now, and all manufacturer precautions should be followed.
- Surgery – Surgery (curettage) is the most effective treatment. Approximately 85% of the time, this resolves the problem. A local anesthetic in the area is utilized. The wart is literally “scooped” out and the base is cauterized. Soaking begins the next day and then covered with a Band-Aid. This is uncomfortable for 7 – 10 days after the procedure and most athletes will not participate in sports for at least 7 days.
Schedule an Appointment for Wart Treatment or Removal in Houston
Call Dr. Ken Dennis, a board certified doctor of podiatry, to schedule an appointment for wart removal surgery or treatment with a board certified doctor of podiatry. With over 35 years of experience treating warts on the feet and toes in Houston, Texas. You can rest assured that you’re making the right choice among foot specialists in Houston.