How do you get warts?

Plantar warts are most likely passed from person to person indirectly. The time from the first contact to the time when the lesion can be visualized may be several months. The risk of “catching” hand or foot warts is small. Other warts may be more contagious.

How are warts treated?

Cryotherapy (freezing) is often used in children, however, this method does seem to work well with plantar warts due to the heavy skin on the sole of the foot. Electrosurgery and or laser surgery can be used for treatment on a single visit to the operating room. This method often requires non-weight bearing to lessen the scarring affect from the surgery. Scars from wart removal can be painful and will be permanent. The surgical methods are usually reserved for a very large area, or for those lesions that do not respond to office based treatments. The most commonly used method for treating warts is through topical acid agents that cause blisters to form around the lesion, or chemicals that help the immune system to attack the lesions. The topical blistering agent (cantharidin) causes a blister to form under the wart. The blister can then be clipped away, removing the dead part of the wart in the blister roof. This process can take up to 3 or more visits, depending on how resistant the lesion is to treatment. Immunotherapy treatments attempt to build up the body’s own reaction/rejection system. Several methods of immunotherapy are being tried. With one method, the patient is made allergic to a certain chemical which is painted on the wart(s). A mild allergic reaction occurs around the treated wart(s), and may result in the disappearance of the wart(s).

What about recurrent warts?

Sometimes it seems as if new warts appear as fast as old ones go away. This may happen because old warts have shed viruses into the stranding surrounding skin before they were treated. In reality, new “baby” warts are growing up around the original “mother” warts. The best way to limit this is to treat new warts as quickly as they develop so they have little time to shed viruses into the nearby skin. If you have questions regarding recurrence, a check-up by your healthcare provider would be helpful. Immunocompromised patients including diabetics or those on chemotherapy or drugs for arthritis may be more prone to develop warts and to have a reoccurrence of the lesions.