Millions of people suffer from plantar warts every year, and while they can be painful and debilitating, they are not a major health concern for most people. However, if you suffer from type I or type II diabetes, plantar warts can be a genuine cause for concern.
Diabetic people are more likely to suffer from plantar warts, and more likely to suffer from serious complications if they go untreated. However, if you are diabetic and suffering from plantar warts, trying to treat the problem yourself can do more harm than good. Professional treatment from an accredited podiatrist is a must for any diabetic person suffering from plantar warts.
What Are Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are very similar to warts that appear on other parts of the body. They occur when the skin is infected by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and cause a patch of skin to become raised, hard and bumpy.
However, because plantar warts occur on the soles of the feet, they are placed under a lot more physical pressure than warts on your fingers or face. This can make them more painful than 'regular' warts, and can also change their shape, causing the hardened skin to penetrate deep into the soles of your feet.
Why Are Diabetic People Vulnerable To Plantar Warts?
Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that weakens the immune system, making your body less able to fight off bacterial and viral infections. If you have diabetes and become infected with HPV, the virus is more likely to cause warts, including plantar warts. This is especially true if you regularly walk barefoot in public areas, such as swimming pools and beaches.
Diabetes also causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels in your extremities, especially the feet. This damage is caused by high blood sugar levels and is more dangerous if your blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. This damage makes your skin heal more slowly after injuries and infections; in serious cases, your skin may not heal at all.
If you have diabetes and plantar warts, your plantar warts are more likely to cause serious damage to the surrounding skin, causing open sores that heal slowly. The wart itself can also become ulcerated, causing bleeding and, in many cases, considerable pain. These open wounds leave your feet critically vulnerable to more serious infections, and can even lead to life-threatening conditions such as gangrene.
Why Is Professional Treatment Essential For Diabetics With Plantar Warts?
You may have noticed a range of over-the-counter plantar wart remedies for sale at pharmacies and online dispensaries. Most remedies use salicylic acid to dissolve the wart, or liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the wart.
If you are diabetic, it is best to avoid these OTC remedies. Both can cause serious damage to the skin surrounding the wart, especially if you have trouble applying them accurately. This skin damage can be more dangerous to your health than the wart itself. Using OTC treatments also increases the risk of spreading the infection to your hands and face.
Instead, you should seek treatment from a professional podiatry clinic. These services can use medical-grade treatments that are far more effective than OTC treatments and cause minimal damage to the skin surrounding your plantar wart(s). They can also prescribe medicines that fight the virus causing the plantar wart and help to bolster your weakened immune system.
Crucially, podiatrists will also monitor your condition in the days and weeks after your plantar warts have been successfully removed. For diabetic people, this post-treatment phase can be quite dangerous, as the slowly-healing skin can be vulnerable to infections and other complications. Your podiatrist will be able to spot early signs of healing difficulties and provide treatments to speed your healing as much as possible.
Contact a podiatrist near you to learn more.