Plantar warts result from viral infections involving the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are categorized by appearance and where they form on the body. "Plantar" refers to the sole of the foot, which is where these warts appear. Plantar warts can be painful and hard to treat.
Plantar warts can vary in shape and size. The wart can begin on the surface of the skin, then invert and grow inward due to pressure from walking and standing. A tough layer of skin often develops over the wart and resembles a callus. Small broken blood vessels are often seen in the center of a plantar wart, producing dark spots.
Destroying agents, such as salicylic acid, are commonly used to treat plantar warts. Salicylic acid is a commonly found ingredient in over-the-counter wart treatments. Cure rates of up to 75 percent can be achieved using salicylic acid over an average of 10 weeks of therapy. Some warts are very difficult to treat and do not respond well to salicylic acid. Removing such warts may involve freezing, burning or the use of chemotherapy agents.
The ultimate goal in treating plantar warts is to successfully allow the body to naturally fight the HPV virus. Tagamet (cimetidine) is an acid-reducing agent that has the potential to enhance the production of T-lymphocytes (killer cells), enabling the body to fight the HPV virus. Once the body can destroy the virus, the symptoms of the wart disappear. Cimetidine in doses of 30 to 40 mg per kg of body weight per day can be effective in treating plantar warts. The success rate is higher when cimetidine is used in combination with salicylic acid, freezing or burning.
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Living near Atlanta, Jenny Sutherland has been a medical writer since 2004. She has published articles for the website CaringForDiabetes.com and has worked with key physicians around the country. Sutherland received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy in Atlanta.