Foot Pain
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Plantar Wart Causes and Symptoms

Did you find a new bump on your foot and aren't sure what it is? Learn the symptoms of plantar warts and what might be the cause.

Published on
July 6, 2022
A family in bed showing, foot naked, uncovered by the blanket

Warts are a type of skin infection that causes rough bumps on the outer layer of your skin. Warts that grow on your hands or other body parts are called common warts. But the types of warts on feet are called plantar warts. 

Here’s everything you need to know about what causes plantar warts, their symptoms, and how to treat them. 

What Is a Plantar Wart?

Plantar warts are small, rough, grainy, or fleshy bumps that grow on the plantar surface or the soles of your feet. They are viral warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They may appear anywhere on the bottom of your foot. But they are commonly seen on the heels or balls of the feet — parts that bear most of your body weight. The pressure may cause a plantar wart to grow under a hard or thickened layer of skin called a callus.

A plantar wart may look like a callus. But it has tiny black dots on the outer surface, which are the ends of tiny dried-up or clotted blood vessels. A callus is a firm, yellow, wax-like skin growth that doesn’t have any blood vessels.

Plantar wart symptoms include:

  • A small, rough bump on the base of your toes, ball, or heel
  • Thickened skin or callus formation when the wart grows inward
  • Tiny, black dots or small blood vessels known as wart seeds
  • Mosaic warts or a cluster of bumps on the soles that occur when the HPV infection spreads
  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing
  • White-colored sores or lesions on the bottom of your foot

Plantar warts can last from several months to 2 years in children. In adults, they can last a few years. If left untreated, they can grow more painful with time and affect how you stand and walk. 

What Are the Causes?

Plantar warts occur due to HPV infection. HPV is a common virus with many strains, but only some strains cause plantar warts. They can spread from person to person. Some people come in contact with HPV but don’t develop an infection. So, you may or may not get plantar warts, depending on your immune system’s ability to fight the virus.

Plantar wart risk factors include:

  • Young age 
  • A weakened immune system
  • A medical history of plantar warts
  • Walking barefoot in warm, moist environments 

You can develop plantar warts through the following ways:

Direct Contact With Warts

HPV strains that cause plantar warts can be contagious. The virus can spread to your body if you come in direct contact with the viral warts of another person. 

If you have warts, touching them can spread HPV from the infected site to other parts of your body. It can cause plantar warts. [Text Wrapping Break]To prevent plantar warts, avoid skin contact with any warts, yours or those on another person. Wash your hands properly if you touch HPV-infected cells by mistake. 

Also, cover your wart to prevent HPV from spreading to other people or other parts of your own body.

Viral Infection Through Cuts

HPV thrives in warm and moist places like a locker room or swimming pool. You become more prone to HPV infection if you walk barefoot around these places. HPV can enter your skin surface through tiny cuts, breaks, cracks, or weak spots on the soles of your feet. 

HPV can grow in sweaty or wet footwear and spread to your feet through cuts. Avoid walking barefoot in warm, moist places. And wear clean, dry shoes to prevent plantar warts.

Plantar Wart Treatment Approaches

Usually, plantar warts are harmless. They remain for a few years and go away without treatment. If you have painful plantar wart symptoms and want to remove them, visit a chiropodist or foot specialist. The doctor will examine your foot and confirm the diagnosis with some tests.

They may suggest the following plantar wart treatments: 

Topical Treatment

Doctors prescribe topical medications with salicylic acid to treat plantar warts. These medicines are available as liquids, gels, pads, or patches. They must be applied regularly on warts. Salicylic acid helps peel the infected cells and remove the plantar wart layer by layer. It also boosts your immune system to fight HPV infection. But topical treatment may take a few weeks to heal your plantar wart and restore healthy skin. 

You can try using silver duct tape to remove your plantar wart. It is not a proven treatment, but it is harmless. Cover the wart with duct tape and change it every 2 or 3 days. Before you change the duct tape, soak your foot and gently remove dead skin cells with a pumice stone. Air-dry the wart for a few hours, and cover it with duct tape again. 

It may or may not work as a treatment. But it helps keep the plantar wart covered and prevent HPV from spreading to other body parts.

Liquid Nitrogen Cryotherapy

Freezing therapy or cryotherapy involves spraying or applying liquid nitrogen to the wart using a cotton swab. The liquid nitrogen freezes the plantar wart and forms a blister around it. The wart becomes dead tissue and falls off within a week after treatment. 

To ensure complete plantar wart removal, your doctor may repeat the procedure every few weeks. It is done in a clinic because it can be painful and requires numbing. Cryotherapy may have side effects like pain, blisters, and skin discoloration. But your doctor will help you manage them. 

Surgical Treatment

If topical treatment and cryotherapy don’t work, your doctor may perform minor surgery to remove the plantar wart. It is usually the last resort because it can leave a painful scar on the sole of your foot.

Minor surgery involves cutting away the plantar wart. Your doctor may use electrodesiccation and curettage (ED & C), a procedure that scrapes off the infected skin cells and seals the wound. They may also use laser therapy to burn and remove the small blood vessels with laser heat energy. These methods can be painful and require numbing your skin.  

When It's Time To Seek Professional Treatment

Plantar warts aren’t usually a serious health concern and don’t always require treatment. However, if you notice these symptoms, you may need immediate treatment:

  • Severe pain or bleeding
  • Shape or color changes in the growth
  • Persistent or recurring plantar warts 
  • Pain that interferes with your daily activities
  • Weakness in legs, especially if you have diabetes
  • A weak immune system 

If you’re looking for a foot specialist to treat plantar warts, the Toe Bro is here to help you. Jonathan Tomines is a licensed chiropodist with years of experience treating foot problems like warts. You can find him at the Mississauga Foot Clinic outside Toronto, Canada. To know more, contact The Toe Bro today.

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Related blog post

Gout Tophi Symptoms and Removal

"lumps" on your toe joints underneath your skin. If so, you may be suffering from gout tophi.

Having gout tophi on toes can be painful and embarrassing. It's important to know what tophi are and how to recognize them for your foot health. 

So what are some common symptoms of tophi gout, and how can you prevent or treat them? You'll find the answers in this article.

Common Tophaceous Gout Symptoms

A swollen feet next to a healthy one

Tophi alone doesn't hurt you, but they can be painful when they swell from being actively inflamed. 

They may also affect the appearance of your toes. They can gradually disintegrate your toe joint tissue, making your joints look bent or twisted — No one wants that!

Because tophi stretch the skin out, they can occasionally cause painful sores. During severely painful episodes of gout attacks, they may even break open and release hardened uric acid, which looks like a soft white material.

Some other common symptoms of tophaceous gout flare-ups include:

  • Severe pain in the joint
  • Tenderness, warmth, and swelling at the tophus
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Discomfort when using the affected joint
  • Difficulty using the affected joint
  • Shiny, red skin over the affected joint

So how do these tophi develop?

Development of Uric Acid Crystals in Joint

Gout is an arthritic condition that arises when monosodium urate (MSU) crystals accumulate in the joint and cause an inflammatory response. MSU crystals form when uric acid — a waste product produced when the body breaks down purines — combines and has reactions with sodium ions.

Gout is the most common type of arthritis. Some common causes of gout include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Diuretic therapy
  • Purine-heavy foods 

You can have acute arthritis, where joint inflammation and pain will strike rapidly and fade over time. You can also have chronic arthritis, where pain and symptoms are ongoing.

Tophi develop when chronic gout is left untreated for an extended period — often ten years or more. The levels of uric acid continue to increase and the gout crystals gradually build up around the joints, causing bulbous, swollen growths to appear.

How To Treat Gouty Tophi

You're probably a little freaked out by now. But don't worry! Thankfully there are several ways to treat gout tophi.

Tophi Removal By Medical Professional

Small tophi often do not require surgery to treat, but a medical professional may recommend gout tophi removal if your tophi are large. In those cases, surgery is best to prevent your joint from losing range of motion or even becoming permanently damaged.

Your doctor may be able to make a small incision above the tophus and remove it by hand. If the affected joint is too damaged, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or Systemic Steroid Therapy

Management of gout is important to reduce your chance of developing tophi.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil or Aleve help relieve inflammation and pain from joint damage from tophi and gout attacks. These are the first-line defense for acute arthritis from gout. 

There are also adjunctive therapies available to treat patients with gout. You may go through urate-lowering therapy after multiple gout attacks or tophi development. You will be prescribed medications that directly treat gout and prevent an increase in your levels of uric acid.

Recommendations for Gout Prevention

Prevention is always the best cure. You can use the following methods before you get a gout diagnosis to keep your feet healthy.

Consistently Monitor Uric Acid Levels

A close up of test tubes filled with blood

Regularly visit your health care provider to have a blood sample taken and tested. They may also have you complete a uric acid urine test, during which you will use a provided collection container to collect all your urine passed for 24 hours.

You can also monitor your uric acid levels at home. Purchase a digital uric acid meter, which includes lancelets and test strips to take and read your blood samples. You will get an immediate reading and can monitor your levels of uric acid as often as needed.

Consume Proper Nutrients

a table filled of healthy vegetables

As mentioned above, uric acid is a waste product of your body's purine breakdown. 

Purines are molecules in your cells' DNA and RNA that are made up of nitrogen and carbon. They can also enter the body via food. A high purine dietary intake is one of the primary causes of gout, so you should avoid foods high in purines. 

Some foods to avoid:

  • Seafood: anchovies, scallops, and herring
  • Sugary foods and beverages: sodas and any other foods made with high fructose corn syrup
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Meat: organ meat and game meats

Instead, you should eat a healthy diet that is lower in purines. Include foods such as: 

  • No-fat or low-fat dairy products
  • Cherries
  • Whole grains
  • Plenty of water
  • Coffee and tea
  • Healthy fats and oils
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and grains, including peanut butter
  • Chicken, fish, and red meat

Some vegetables such as asparagus, peas, and oatmeal are high in purines but do not raise the blood's uric acid levels. Their high fiber content may be beneficial for gout.

It may sound like you can't eat any of the good stuff, but it's worth it for your health. Whole foods and a plant-based diet lower levels of uric acid and inflammation, reduce symptoms of existing chronic arthritis conditions, and reduce the risk of developing other types of arthritis. 

Treat and Ice Joint Pain Early in the Inflammatory Process

A shovel laying down on ice cubes

Don't try to bear the pain when you first notice discomfort in your joint.  Applying an ice pack to the affected joint may help ease the inflammation and pain. You can wrap a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice in a dish cloth and apply it to the area for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day. 

Maintain Foot Health To Help With Your Gouty Arthritis

Close up of foot laying down on a rock

Tophi gout on your feet can lead to painful symptoms such as swelling, severe pain, loss of motion, and even bursting sores if left untreated. 

Thankfully you can prevent tophi by monitoring your uric acid levels, consuming proper nutrients, and treating joint pain early in the process. If you already have developed gout tophi, you can have them professionally removed or try anti-inflammatory drugs or adjunctive therapy.

There are also many products you can use to alleviate painful symptoms, improve the condition of your skin, and maintain your foot health. The Toe Bro offers effective, high-quality foot care products like skin foot foams and foot spray deodorants to improve your foot health. Check us out to get relief from your foot problems today.

Ingrown Toenail: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Are you having pain in one of your toes near the nail bed? If so, you may have an ingrown toenail. We all have heard how annoying and painful they can be.

But exactly what is an ingrown toenail, and is there anything you can do to fix it? In this article, we'll discuss the symptoms of an ingrown nail. We'll also look at some ways to prevent and treat it.

What's an Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails occur when the side or corner of a nail grows into the soft flesh of your toe's nail bed. They may also occur when the skin on the side of the nail grows over the nail edge. They dig into the flesh, causing irritation over time.

Who can get an ingrown nail? 

It is a common condition, so anyone who does not take care of their feet properly is at risk of getting it. Ingrown toenails can be caused by external factors such as:

  • Shoes that are too tight
  • Improper nail trimming 
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Toenail injury

However, adolescents and people with diabetes or other medical conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet are at a greater risk of having ingrown toenails.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Nail

Some common symptoms of ingrown nails include:

  • Inflamed skin
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Swelling

You may even get a nail root infection (paronychia). This occurs when a piece of nail cuts into the skin and leaves an opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin. It most often occurs as severe swelling and pain at the nail root. If left untreated, infections can become severe.

So how can you treat ingrown toenails?

Ingrown Toenail Treatment Options

It's important to know how to treat an ingrown toenail so you can avoid harmful complications. Thankfully, there are some effective treatment options for your ingrown nail.

Try at Home Foot Care Remedies

While you don't want to risk infection by pulling out ingrown nails yourself, there are some preventive home remedies you can try to treat them.

Soak your affected foot in warm water 3-4 times a day. This will keep your nail and the surrounding skin soft and hydrated so the nail doesn't dig into the skin too firmly.

You may also make packing at home by gently lifting the nail tip and inserting cotton between your skin and the nail.

If your ingrown nail doesn't get better within two to three days after you start these remedies, you need to visit your podiatrist.

Visit a Foot Specialist

A doctor crossing his arms and holding a stethoscope

If you have a severely painful ingrown nail or an ingrown toenail infection, it may be best to visit your foot specialist for ingrown toenail treatment.

The podiatrist will probably prescribe oral antibiotics to fight the harmful bacteria. 

You may need nail surgery to partially or completely remove the infected nail. The doctor may also have to remove a small portion of the nail bed, some of the surrounding soft tissue, and a portion of the growth center. 

This may sound painful, but you will be numbed and the procedure is straightforward. Nail surgery will eliminate the nail edge from growing inward and cutting into the flesh as your toenail regrows forward.

Whatever your podiatrist recommends, it is best to follow their medical advice.  

Techniques for Ingrown Toenail Prevention

You should do your best to prevent the growth of ingrown toenails so you can spare yourself the pain and hassle of treating them. There are several methods you can use to prevent ingrown toenails from growing.

Trim Toenails Correctly

Close-up of nail clippers on a grey background

One of the best ways to prevent an ingrown toenail is through a good foot care routine. 

Curved toenails may look attractive, but they are not good for your toes and increase your risk of getting an ingrown nail. 

Instead of curving the nails to match the shape of your toe, you want to use a nail clipper to trim them straight across. You can then use an emery board or nail file to gently round the corners. 

You also want to make sure the toenails aren't too long or too short. If they're too long, there's a high risk they will begin to curl in and dig into the skin. If they're too short, pressure from your shoes may cause a nail to start growing into the tissue. 

It's best to trim your toenails so they're even with the tips of your toes. This will keep them from curling or being pressed into the soft tissue of your nail bed.

Avoid Tight Fitting Shoes

Comfy shoes laying down on a beige carpet

Tight-fitting shoes are harmful to your feet in several ways, and one of the effects is ingrown toenails. Tight shoes pinch your toes and place too much pressure on them, causing your nails to grow into soft tissue. 

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. 

Most people have one foot that's bigger than the other, so use your biggest foot as the measuring standard for your shoes. They should fit your heel, ball of your foot, and top of your toes comfortably without too much pressure.

A good rule of thumb is to have a fourth of an inch of space between the top and front of your toes and the shoe. This should be enough for you to fit a finger through.

Open-toed shoes are another great option to eliminate the risk of pressure, pinching, or excessive perspiration. But make sure you wear protective shoes like steel-toed boots or sneakers if you're doing activities that may injure your toes.

Keep Your Toes Looking and Feeling Their Best

Close-up of a woman's red nails

Ingrown toenails can be unsightly and painful. Proper foot health and a good foot care routine are the best preventers of ingrown toenails. 

So make sure you trim your toenails properly, wear comfortable shoes, use safe home remedies, and visit a foot specialist if you notice an ingrown nail. Your feet will look and feel their best.

Using tools and materials that keep the nails and skin healthy is another important part of foot care. Here at The Toe Bro, we offer products specially designed to prevent and treat symptoms of common foot conditions. Take a look around our website to enhance your foot care routine today. You'll enjoy healthy, good-looking feet for years to come.

7 Foot Care Tips for Better Foot Health

Your feet work hard. They take several thousand steps a day to get you from point A to point B — all while bearing the weight of your body. You stand on them a long time and put them into shoes that may not be the best fit. Unfortunately, these conditions can eventually cause a range of foot problems. So how can you take care of your feet and avoid chronic foot issues? This article will cover seven excellent foot care tips to keep your feet healthy.

Foot Care Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

It's important to know how to take care of your feet to keep them healthy for years to come. You can implement these seven tips to build a good foot care routine and avoid foot issues.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Shoes

Shoe fit is very important to your foot health. 

Tight shoes restrict your blood flow, causing poor circulation that damages your feet in the long run. They may also cause foot pain that could become chronic. 

Over time, you may notice calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, and corns on your feet. They may even deform your feet with conditions like hammertoes and bunions.

2. Wear Shoes With Arch Support

Once you've got comfortable shoes that fit, you need to make sure your arch is adequately supported. Your arch does it all — it supports your body weight, propels you forward when you move, and absorbs shock anytime your foot hits the ground. Over time, your arch can become strained or weakened from the stress.

Arch supports keep your arch in good condition because they:

  • Distribute pressure evenly
  • Support the lower body
  • Help with alignment
  • Prevent arch trauma
  • Provide balance and stability
  • Prevent and lessen foot pain

So really, everyone can benefit from arch supports. Look for shoe brands that are known for providing good arch support. You may benefit from a custom shoe insert if you have shoes that fit well but don't provide enough arch support.

Also, try to avoid wearing flats and flip-flops every day. Although they are comfortable, they don't support your arch enough and may lead to a foot injury down the line.

3. Keep Your Feet Clean and Mostly Dry

Feet often sweat throughout the day, providing a perfect breeding ground for harmful fungi. So pay special attention to your feet when you shower or bathe. Good foot hygiene goes a long way toward eliminating foot odor. 

Be careful! You don't want to soak your feet in hot water or leave them in the water for too long. This may cause dry skin, which leads to skin irritation and flaking. 

After you clean your feet thoroughly, be sure to dry them. Don't be shy — get in between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot.

4. Inspect Regularly for Foot Ailments

Practicing a good foot care routine allows you to catch any potential issues before they arise. Inspect your feet for any changes daily, and look out for any sores, cuts, swelling, or infected toenails.

Use antiseptic and healing creams if you notice any cuts, and go to the podiatrist immediately if you have unexpected swelling or infected toenails. 

After all, prevention is always the best cure.

5. Use Nail Clippers Correctly

We may tend to use nail clippers to clip and shape our toenails. But this can cause damage to the tender skin of your nail bed. 

It's important to use nail clippers correctly. Make sure they're stainless steel, so the blades stay sharp for longer. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. 

Use the nail clippers only to trim the toenail straight across. You then want to use a nail file or emery board to gently smooth and round the corners. 

You can also use the nail file or emery board to push your cuticles back. However, you want to avoid cutting them, so they don't split or bleed.

6. Use Moisturizing Cream at Night

Chronic dry skin can cause skin irritation and flakiness. To avoid this, use moisturizing cream every night right after you dry your feet off. 

You can use creams, lotions, or even petroleum jelly. These are all nourishing emollients that sink into the skin and create a barrier to protect it. Your feet will be noticeably softer and well-hydrated. 

You can even give your feet a gentle massage as you apply your moisturizer, which can help stretch the tendons and contribute to your foot's muscular health. 

Afterward, you can put on socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for at least an hour for better lotion absorption, especially if you have dry skin.

But don't put any moisturizer between your toes to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Remember, you want to keep that area dry.

7. Don't Perform DIY Surgery on Ingrown Nails

We all know that ingrown toenails are annoying and even downright painful, and it's tempting to do a little DIY surgery to get rid of them. However, this is dangerous. 

Many people dig out ingrown nails with nail clippers or use floss to "splint" the toenail. These home remedies create a wide opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin and develop into a nasty infection.

Go see your podiatrist instead. They are experts in all things feet and will safely get rid of your ingrown toenail in sanitary conditions. They can also prevent ingrown nails from regrowing and causing issues in the future.

Schedule Periodic Foot Exams and Invest in Advanced Foot Products

It's important to practice proper foot care. This includes wearing comfortable shoes, practicing good foot hygiene, and using the proper tools and creams.

You also want to visit your podiatrist for periodic foot exams to prevent the development of foot problems. They can also improve your foot health by performing procedures like ingrown toenail removal. These steps will ensure that your feet stay healthy and happy for many years.

Make sure you use products made for your feet. Here at The Toe Bro, we know how important it is for you to take care of your feet. That's why we provide high-quality advanced foot products to tackle and prevent a host of foot problems afflicting people today. Feel free to visit our website and add products to your routine today. You won't regret investing in your foot health.