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Plantar warts are widespread, particularly in children, and are located on the underside of the foot. These warts are benign skin growths which result from a virus. There are several strains of the virus. The viral infection will usually affect the top layer of skin. These warts are not harmful but can cause some irritation or mild discomfort. Most of the time, a person has them removed because they are unattractive and make him or her feel awkward about revealing his or her feet. Plantar warts are small, similar to the size of an eraser end on a pencil. Additionally, they can grow in clusters referred to as mosaic warts.

How does a person get warts?

Warts usually spread through indirect contact. In many, situations a person with a wart touches or uses something, as a communal shower, without wearing shoes or covering the wart and then another person uses or touches the same surface, picking up the virus. The risk of passing along warts this way isn’t very high, however. The main culprit is a weakened immune system. A compromised immune system leaves a person vulnerable to getting another infection. It is easier to contract the wart virus after being sick, and it is relatively common to get one after suffering a cold or the flu.

How are warts treated?

Once the virus that causes warts has entered the foot, usually through a tiny cut or another opening in the skin, it establishes itself in the deeper layers of tissue where it can be protected, growing and multiplying and eventually resulting in the fleshy growth that is visible on the bottom of the foot. In fact, the fleshy growth that is visible is usually a small fraction of the actual wart, most of which is buried beneath the tissue. To eradicate them, plantar warts require professional treatment to penetrate to these deeper layers to eliminate the entire wart. Over-the-counter medications are not strong enough to remove the entire wart, enabling the wart to grow again. Warts can be treated with cryotherapy to freeze the virus, killing it and preventing re-growth, or with lasers or other procedures to destroy the entire wart.

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