Plantar warts are common, especially on children, and are found on the bottom of the foot. These warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by a virus. Many strains of the virus exist. The viral infection usually affects the top layer of skin. Usually these warts are not harmful. They can cause irritation or discomfort. Usually the person will want to get rid of them because they are unsightly and can make him or her uncomfortable showing his or her feet. Usually plantar warts are small, about the size of an eraser on a pencil. Some can grow larger. They can also grow in clusters known as mosaic warts.
Warts can spread from person to person and the transmission can be indirect. For example, a child with a wart can play on a surface and is then touched by another child, spreading the virus. Using a shower which has also been used by a person with a wart without foot protection can also spread them. The risk is small however. Those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to getting warts. It is not uncommon for a person who has been sick to develop a wart.
If the wart doesn’t bother the person, it can be left alone to heal on its own. However, if it does not go away or is particularly bothersome there are a variety of treatments which can help. Over-the-counter medications have about a 50% chance of working. These usually take some time and work by peeling the wart. Doctor’s treatments include liquid nitrogen treatments to freeze the wart, laser or surgery to remove the wart, and injecting or applying medicine to strengthen the immune system and rid the person of the virus. Treatment usually takes time regardless of the form and it can be challenging to treat foot warts because most of the wart itself lies underneath the skin surface. Doctors' treatments are usually successful however, warts can return if the person is exposed to the virus again or if it wasn’t killed during the first treatment.
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