All warts stem from the same human papillomavirus (HPV), but they don’t all look and feel the same. Common warts can be small or large, round or oval, rough or smooth, and they most often appear on the hand and fingers, but you might also notice them on your knees, elbows, and ankles.
When warts show up on the bottom, or plantar side, of your feet, they can be quite painful every time you take a step. Some people describe them as a pebble in their shoe that never goes away.
So how do you make a plantar wart go away? At Dan Preece, DPM, and Darren Groberg, DPM, a branch of Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists in Salt Lake City, Utah, we provide several effective treatments to banish these particularly tough-to-treat warts. As board-certified podiatrists, we have extensive skill and experience to accurately diagnose and safely eliminate all types of plantar warts.
All about mosaic warts
Rather than popping up as a single wart, mosaic warts form a cluster of warts on the bottom of your feet in a pattern similar to mosaic tile, hence the name. They tend to appear on the ball or heel of your foot where you apply the most pressure when you stand and walk.
Symptoms of mosaic warts include:
- Thickened skin that you might mistake as a callus
- Pain when you stand or walk
- Small black dots in the middle of each wart
Those dots are evidence that blood vessels have grown into the center of the warts and burst. To the untrained eye, a mosaic wart may look a lot like a callus or a corn, but our podiatrists can let you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Mosaic warts grow deep into the layers of your skin, which is one of the reasons they can be so painful, and also the reason they can be difficult to treat.
How you got mosaic warts
Like all warts, mosaic warts are highly contagious. You likely got your wart after coming into contact with someone else who has a wart or by touching a surface where the HPV virus lurks. This virus easily enters any breach in your skin, like a cut or abrasion, and it hangs out on surfaces such as gym floors, pool decks, towels, socks, and shoes.
If you touch your mosaic wart and then touch another part of your body — or someone else’s — the warts can spread. The HPV virus thrives in warm, moist environments, so keeping your feet and footwear clean and dry helps you prevent plantar warts.
How to get rid of mosaic warts
Dr. Preece and Dr. Groberg approach mosaic warts with the most conservative treatments first, and progressively incorporate more assertive techniques if your warts don’t respond. Here are several types of treatments that may get rid of your mosaic warts.
There are some over-the-counter remedies that may diminish some types of warts, such as salicylic acid and at-home freezing kits, but they typically don’t work for stubborn mosaic warts. We can prescribe prescription-strength topicals that slow or stop the cells in the warts from replicating.
In the hands of professionals like Dr. Groberg and Dr. Preece, salicylic acid can be an effective treatment for plantar warts. Our higher strength formula is 55% or higher, compared to the OTC version, which is only 17%.
We start this treatment by debriding, or filing away, some of the surface of the wart, then we apply the acid. Over time, the wart shrinks and eventually disappears.
In some cases, it’s best to attack the warts from the inside out, so we may prescribe oral medications such as cimetidine, a drug normally used to treat acid reflux. Studies show it may improve your cellular immunity and retard the progression of your warts. Oral retinoids and other dietary supplements may also support your treatment plan.
Cryotherapy is a method of freezing your wart using liquid nitrogen. Once exposed, the warts blister and then peel away or fall off. If your mosaic warts are very deep, the cryotherapy may be painful and may not reach the roots of the warts.
For many years, the aesthetics industry has used the power of light to solve a wide variety of skin issues, and one of them comes in handy in the treatment of warts as well. Pulsed dye lasers, also known as Nd:YAG lasers, can remove the upper layers of skin in very precise sections, which makes them effective at removing scar tissue and warts.
If none of the more conservative treatments get rid of your stubborn mosaic plantar warts, we may recommend surgical removal to excise them and eliminate them completely.
If you have painful warts on the bottom of your feet, don’t live with them — schedule an appointment with Dr. Preece or Dr. Groberg and get rid of those warts for good. Call us at 801-285-6332 or book your appointment using our online scheduling tool today.