It’s that time of year again. After a long hard winter the weather is finally warming up and the sun is coming out. Soon the public swimming pools will never look better. As a podiatrist I would like to take the opportunity to warn people of the risks of contracting plantar warts. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are many strains of this virus. The strain that causes plantar warts is a distant cousin to the strains that cause warts on other parts of the body. The virus does not enter the body or the immune system kills it. Rather, it is an opportunistic infection that takes advantage of compromised skin. The virus penetrates all the layers of skin except the basement membrane. There it thrives and can go unnoticed for months until the wart starts to cause discomfort. To discuss treatment options come and see me if this ever becomes a problem. Otherwise, prevention is the key.
There are many ways to contract warts, but the public pool scenario is a very common one. The cement of the walkways and bottom of the pool acts like sand paper on the feet. After an afternoon of cooling off in the public pool the cement has done a good amount of damage to the plantar skin on the feet, thus compromising the skin. Combine this with the other people at the pool that are actively infected with warts. Many of these people may not realize they are infected. Those infected are actively shedding viruses the whole time they are at the pool. This scenario produces compromised skin with exposure to the virus.
Prevention is the key: Avoid direct or indirect contact with hosts. Wear sandals while at the pool and keep feet covered while in all public locations. Do not share towels, socks, or shoes. If you have a wart then cover it with adhesive tape while at the pool and other public locations. Regular treatment of shoes with an antiviral spray may also be beneficial.
Dr. Marshal Gwynn, DPM