Wart Awareness Month: Tips for Keeping Your Feet Wart-Free
Summer is here in New Hampshire and it’s time to enjoy all of those fun outdoor activities we missed over the winter season. From going to the lake and walking the beach to exploring the mountains and hitting the pool, it’s time to run around, get dirty, and walk around barefoot.
Unfortunately, when activity levels rise and the shoes come off, the risk for spreading plantar warts increases. The National Verruca Foundation has designated July as Wart Awareness Month because summer is the peak season for the spread of plantar warts. With more opportunities to go barefoot, we put ourselves at risk for cuts, scrapes, and painful lesions on our feet (like plantar warts).
So, what are warts? Warts are skin lesions that form on the plantar (bottom) of the foot. The virus that causes warts is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is easily transmitted between people and objects. Plantar warts are highly contagious and painful, especially when they appear on pressure points on the bottoms of feet. Children and adolescents are most susceptible to getting these warts, as well as anyone with immune deficiencies.
The virus HPV can survive on surfaces for months or even years. To contract the infection, you need to come into contact with viral particles — which can be on socks, shoes, towels, public pools, shower floors, etc. What happens is the virus enters the skin through small cuts or abrasions on the bottom of your feet, infecting the outer skin cells. If your body doesn’t fight off the cells, you’ll begin to see and feel the lesions start to form.
If you want to continue having fun in the sun all summer long, here are a few precautions you can take to reduce your risk of getting plantar warts:
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas.
- Remember to wear footwear in and around swimming pools, communal showers, and locker rooms – this includes public restrooms at the beach or lake.
- Do not share swimming towels, shoes, or other personal items.
- Try to avoid cuts and scrapes to the bottoms of your feet.
- Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible.
- If you have children, check their feet periodically.
- Avoid direct contact with warts on yourself or others.
Whether you’re hoping to prevent contracting warts for the first time or you want to prevent new ones, the tips above should help you keep your feet happy and healthy.