Warts, Warts and More Warts

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As the winter draws in, and we bundle up in multiple layers; from the mammoth fleecy jumpers down to our thick wooly socks, maybe 2 pairs on top of each other we become negligent towards what is occurring on the bottoms of our feet. Today’s blog post is about warts, what they look like, how crippling they become, ways to differentiate them from other soft tissue pathologies and various treatment options.

Now every story has a beginning, middle and end and my anecdote dates back over 20 years ago. I was at home, barefoot of course and whilst I was racing my older brother in the backyard I felt a sharp pain underneath the big toe on my left foot. I didn’t want to stop and let my brother beat me so I continued to rush past whilst my eyes were watering up. After claiming the title of being the fastest, I sat down and tried to see what exactly was the crux of this pain. I mean as a kid we are relatively clean people, constantly in cleanly washed garments, showers or baths daily. So generally speaking the only issues that should be bugging a four year old is “what’s for dinner Mum” and “when can I watch Finding Nemo again”.

Now I’m peering down, poking at my left big toe with a stick, and I see this lump, it’s circular, there black dots, it looks as if its coming out if the skin, the surrounding tissue looks healthy but there’s just one erect lump poking its head out as if to say hello, only it’s becoming the bane of my existence by ruining my ability to run and walk. After a thorough poking session with a stick and no pain, I begin to squeeze the edges and WOWZAH!! That is next level intense pain, I definitely won’t be doing that again. 

I go inside and tell mum that my brother hurt my toe .. (I know it’s evil but what are big brother’s for if not to take the blame for things they DIDN’T do.. lol). Mum takes a look and we are en route to the GP and viola I see the doctor walk back into the room with a can of Liquid Nitrogen and I’m followed by 45 seconds of having my poor toe freeze to its core. Yes, I, Saja fell crippled to the heinous lump known to mankind as a Wart. 

Fastrack to all these years and time spent catching more on other parts of my body and studying podiatry, the culprit of warts is most definitely not my older brother; it’s the human papillomavirus infection aka … HPV. We can get warts from any strains of this virus and it can affect all areas of the body; commonly hands, feet and genitals. 

Old school GP  treatment and what I received was having fortnightly applications of liquid nitrogen for 30-45seconds, waiting for a scab to form then waiting for it to peel off and repeating this process till a lump was non-existent.

Previous and current podiatry treatments include a lower concentration of liquid nitrogen than what the GP has, spraying the affected area till it’s turned completely white (varies for individuals .. sometimes be for a couple of minutes and that’s just to freeze one wart! Imagine if you had multiple!!!). Next, apply salicylic acid; a white paste cream followed by taping the wart with sports tape with the aim of suffocating the wart. The instructions include to keep that on for 3 days then re-apply and keep it covered again. This process is tedious, in that the individual can’t get the area wet, so that’s more time spent away from playing sports, swimming, showering. It’s a nightmare for the individual and for the carers and potential coaches for people that participate in higher level sports.

Recently in the podiatry world the gold standard for treating warts is Swift microwave therapy. An intense, but faster treatment option with a much higher percentage of success. So microwave energy is a version of heat energy and swift essentially is a probe held on the site of the wart where we transfer heat 5 times at 2 second intervals. At Sutherland Podiatry Centre, the team ensures the patients receive a thorough and detailed discussion about Swift and what to expect. Once those 10 seconds are over, the patient is free to walk or run straight after, resume sports, can get the area wet and resume daily activities as per normal. We recommend the individual returns back after every 4 weeks but the progression of the wart’s removal is dependent upon age and the individual’s immune system. Generally children have this resolved in 1-2 sessions but a consult every 4 weeks is ideal to monitor and after those 10 seconds and a foot lolly you’re out the door. 

So if you are suspecting a fleshy, painful lump on your feet today come into Sutherland Podiatry Centre and we can determine what the most appropriate action is required to take.

Have a great week!!

Take Care, Saja

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