Warts on feet, also known as plantar warts, are a lot more common than you might think. By some estimates, as many as 1 in 10 Americans have them. And even if you don’t have any plantar warts right now, you might remember developing a few back in your younger days.
Consequently, it’s not at all surprising that we treat foot warts quite frequently at our offices in Twin Falls and Burley. It’s a service we’re very happy to provide, of course, but we know it would make our patients even happier if they didn’t have to deal with warts in the first place!
The good news is, while it isn’t always possible to 100% guarantee you would never develop new warts, there are some simple preventative steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of either contracting plantar warts or multiplying your existing warts.
Here are a few of the most important tips.
Don’t Go Around Barefoot
Plantar warts are caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus, or HPV. These HPV strains tend to congregate in spaces that are warm and moist, where they can spread through indirect contact with various surfaces.
To protect yourself, always wear (at the very least) a pair of sandals or water shoes when you’re out at the pool, or using public facilities like locker rooms, showers, gyms, etc. Not only does this help you reduce the risk of contact with HPV, but it also reduces the risk that you’ll develop tiny cuts and scrapes that the virus can use to get under the skin.
Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry
Wash your feet using a disinfecting soap at least once per day, as well as immediately after spending time in a public area with a greater risk of exposure.
Don’t let your feet stay wet as you go about your day. When skin is wet, it can be damaged much more easily. Unfortunately, the viruses that cause plantar warts don’t need much of an opening—even very small, barely perceptible weak points can often do the trick.
Wearing moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes can help. If they become damp during the course of the day, switch to new pairs.
Don’t Share Certain Items with Others
Clothing, skin and nail care tools, and other items which could come into contact or close proximity with warts or potentially contaminated skin should not be shared with others. These include things like:
- Nail clippers
- Pumice stones/emery boards
- Socks and shoes
Make sure you have, and use, your own items.
Don’t Touch Warts
So far we’ve been talking about how warts can spread through indirect contact, but we shouldn’t forget to mention they can spread through direct contact, too.
Please do not touch or pick at your warts. This can spread them to your hands, or even to other parts of your body that you touch afterward. Your risk of spreading them to others rises as well.
If you must touch any of your warts, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with disinfecting soap immediately afterward.
Cover Your Warts
One way to reduce the risk of existing warts spreading or multiplying is to simply cover them with a clean, non-medicated bandage or athletic tape. Once covered, it’s a lot harder for the warts to spread to other places via contact with your hands, socks, shoes, etc.
As a bonus, taping your wart may also provide a small bit of extra cushioning that can reduce any discomfort you might be feeling from standing on the wart.
If You Have Any Plantar Warts, Get Them Treated by a Professional
Plantar warts may not be the most “dangerous” foot problem you can contract, but there’s a reason they’re so common and spread so easily.
The logic for getting your warts treated as soon as possible is simple: the longer you have a wart, the more time it has to spread. Getting rid of them now is as much a preventative care option as an “active” care option.
Warts can take months or years to disappear on their own, and home care methods tend to have very low success rates. That’s why we usually recommend you skip straight to professional care. We have several different treatment options for plantar warts, and can help you select one that is the best fit for your condition and your lifestyle.