Plantar warts are usually found on the soles of the feet or the toes. They can be hard and resemble a corn, or soft and fleshy. They are often raised and usually gray or brown with a small black center. Although over-the-counter treatments are available, the best treatment is to have the wart removed by a doctor.
Removal of Plantar Warts
In some cases, plantar warts can disappear on their own and doctors may not advise treatment unless the wart is causing pain. However, treatments are available for those who wish to remove the wart for cosmetic reasons or because the wart is causing discomfort or the wart(s) are spreading. Plantar warts can sometimes be persistent and difficult to remove. Without proper treatment, they may grow to over 1-inch around and/or spread into "mosaic warts," a group of multiple warts located in one area. Over-the-counter medications like salicylic acid remove warts by destroying the tissue in and around the wart; healthy tissue is also destroyed in the process. Furthermore, the warts may return if the treatment does not fully eliminate the plantar wart. Thus, it is best to go see a licensed physician or podiatrist to have the wart permanently removed without injury to the healthy skin around the wart.
CO2 Laser Cautlery
Lasers are generally considered by doctors to be one of the best methods for removing plantar warts. Laser cautlery can remove a wart without injury to any of the skin surrounding it. The laser procedure can be done on an out-patient basis. The area is first numbed with local anesthesia so the procedure is not painful. The entire wart is removed, so the chances of the wart returning are diminished (when compared with over the counter treatments). In addition, less scaring occurs with lasers than with cyrotherapy and over-the-counter treatments.
Cryotherapy involves removing a wart by freezing it off. Either liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide are used to freeze the wart, which will then generally fall off immediately, although some warts require between one and four treatments. The nitrogen or nitrous oxide is usually applied using a cotton swab. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. Mild discomfort may occur during the surgery and may persist for several days following the procedure. Ibuprofen or an equivalent over-the-counter pain medication can be taken to manage the pain. There is some risk of scarring associated with cryotherapy, especially if multiple treatments are require to remove the wart.