What are warts?
Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Warts are infections caused by viruses that are present everywhere, making them among the most common of all childhood skin conditions. The culprit will be one of more than 70 types of human papillomaviruses (HPV). They are spread when the virus touches a part of the skin where the outer protective layer is broken, either by minor trauma or by moisture. This happens most commonly on the fingers, elbows, knees, and the bottoms of the feet. Warts on the bottom of the feet are called plantar warts – named for the plantar surface (sole) of the foot.
Under a magnifying glass the roughened surface of a wart often looks like a tiny cauliflower. The little black dots sometimes seen are the ends of blood vessels that the wart has recruited to bring it food. Contrary to well-established belief, the underside of a wart is smooth and round, and the entire wart is confined to the epidermis — the outermost layer of the skin. There are no ‘roots’!
Plantar warts often make running, jumping, and even walking, uncomfortable. The tenderness can change posture and cause strain elsewhere in the body. A little wart can be a big problem. Sometimes filing with an emory board and/or wearing a doughnut bandage can alleviate the discomfort. The warts are usually most tender when they are growing most rapidly. Often, the pain will disappear within a few days even if nothing is done. Warts should be treated if they are spreading, unsightly, or continue to be painful.Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Rebecca Hicks
Last reviewed: June 19, 2008