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1. Warts are caused by variations of the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over 18 varieties of this virus that can cause warts on our feet (over 96 total that can cause warts on our bodies).
2. Warts sometimes run in families – this is usually because families tend to have the same underlying problems (hereditary – sweaty feet and a susceptibility for the viral infection) or the same bad habits (pool time without shoes/flip-flops) walking barefoot outside.
3. The wart virus, HPV, lives inside our dorsal root ganglia in our nervous system and tend to ‘emerge’ or show the bumps during times of immune stress.
4. The little black dots you can sometimes see on warts are actually called petechiae – they are thrombosed capillaries – the little blood supply to the wart.
5. Warts tend to hurt more when you squeeze them versus just pressing on them (a big way to tell if it is a wart or a callous).
So now you know what warts are and how they are caused, what are the treament options? Since warts tend to come back, we attack early and often, making sure that anyone in the family with an open lesion is being treated!
First Line of Defense – Either cryo (cold) or chemo (heat) therapy is used to kill the blood vessels. This is done in our office. Patients then go home with a wart kit: acid medication (Gordofilm, a strong salicylic acid), applicators, and a personal pumi-bar to scrape away wart tissue). We also supply patients with padding as needed and address any hyperhydrosis concerns (sweaty feet are a great environment for warts – we need to dry those toes out).
Second Line of Defense – We can repeat the laser (heat) therapy or nitrogen (cold) therapy in the office at 4 weeks. If needed, we add on an oral medication (Cimetidine) to help the body’s immune response to kill the warts. We follow up with 4 more weeks of home treatments.
Last Line of Defense – If needed, we can excise the wart. This can be done either in the office or at the surgery center. I do not like to perform this until we have tried all other options because sometimes the scar from this small procedure can be more tender than the wart itself.
The biggest thing to remember is that because warts are caused by a virus, they can come back! Treating them quickly while they are small is the BEST defense. For more information, or to have your feet checked, please contact our office at 309-661-9975 or click here to schedule an appointment.