A wart on the heel is a neoplasm that can cause great discomfort to the patient. The growth occurs under the influence of the papilloma virus and mainly affects damaged skin on the heel. It looks like an elastic and dense formation on the epidermis, covered with dry crusts.
Causes of warts on the heel
The papilloma virus can infect various parts of the human body and cause proliferation of epithelial tissue. Heels are no exception. Warts that are caused by HPV types 1, 2, 4, 27 and 57 usually form here. In total, there are at least 100 strains of this pathogen worldwide. It is very contagious and widespread, which is why about 80% of the world's population is a carrier of this virus.
Of all the benign growths that can be located on the heel, warts make up a third. It is quite easy to become infected with HPV, which causes its occurrence - the virus is transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person through ordinary everyday contacts in everyday life, as well as in crowded places. Using other people's personal hygiene items and walking barefoot on the floor in crowded spaces (gyms, locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools) are all ways of transmitting the papilloma virus.
Contrary to popular belief, it is almost impossible to become infected with HPV on the beach and "earn" a wart on your heel. This pathogen dies quickly when dried and exposed to sunlight.
The formation of warts on the heel does not always occur immediately after infection with the papilloma virus. People with strong immunity are usually not susceptible to the formation of warts and papillomas. The body's own defense systems suppress the pathogen and do not cause any damage to health. But as soon as the immune system fails, which is the case with overload, hypothermia, infectious diseases, hormonal imbalances, poor nutrition or poisoning, HPV can become active and manifest itself as skin tumors.
In addition, there are a number of factors that accompany the appearance of warts on the heel:
- Traumatization of the epidermis on the heel – cracks, abrasions, scratches, cuts;
- Using ill-fitting shoes that press, squeeze or rub the skin;
- Diseases that cause trophic changes in soft tissue – varicose veins, diabetes, atherosclerosis;
- deformative pathologies of the lower extremities – flat feet, arthritis, arthrosis and others;
- Excessive sweating or excessive dryness and tenderness of the epidermis on the feet.
As a rule, if the virus is not too active and the immune system resists, warts on the heel can appear. If the pathogen is very active, massive damage to heels and feet caused by warts is possible.
Methods for diagnosing warts on the heel
Because of the constant pressure on the foot and heel, warts in this area often resemble corns and calluses. Therefore they are not so easy to identify. An exceptional dermatologist is able to make an accurate diagnosis and distinguish the growth from other pathologies. A procedure called dermoscopy is most commonly performed for this purpose.
To carry out a qualitative examination, the stratum corneum of the epidermis is scraped and a sample is taken. The resulting scraping is sent to the laboratory. There they confirm or deny the presence of HPV.
A visual examination can also help to get a clear picture of the disease. With a wart on the heel, there is no skin pattern on the surface. Blackheads can also be seen. These are traces of clogged capillaries.
If necessary, an ultrasound examination is prescribed, which helps to determine the depth of penetration of the so-called "roots" of the wart deep into the skin.
A differentiated diagnosis of tumors on the heel is necessary in the following cases:
- The presence of oncological lesions in the patient;
- Foot deformities of various origins;
- Reiter's syndrome, which can provoke the development of keratoderma;
- Syphilis, which can cause painful ring-shaped growths to form on the feet and hands.
To clarify the diagnosis, a blood test for HPV, syphilis and a general analysis are also carried out.
Why is it important to treat heel warts?
Although warts on the heel are considered a fairly harmless pathology, consultation with a doctor and treatment should not be delayed. Over time, the disease can worsen. In addition, self-medication at home can only suppress the external manifestations of a papillomavirus infection. At the same time, the virus remains in the blood and causes periodic warts on the body.
Also remember that a neglected heel wart will progress and continue to grow. In addition, due to the external pressure on the foot, the neoplasm grows into the skin and penetrates deeper into the soft tissue. This leads to compaction of the layers of the epidermis and the formation of blood clots in the capillaries, which are noticeable in the form of dark dots on the surface of the growth. Gradually, the wart on the heel begins to cause severe pain.
Treatment of a wart on the heel is necessary if the following symptoms occur:
- Severe pain in the area of the growth;
- Rapid wart growth and damage to new heel areas;
- Discomfort when walking and supporting the leg.
It should also be remembered that a patient infected with HPV poses a danger to others as he is a carrier of the virus. Relatives of such a person are at risk of infection at home.
Only comprehensive treatment can help completely eliminate pathological tumors, suppress the virus and avoid relapses.
Ways to treat warts on the heel
If you don't know how to get rid of a wart on your heel, only combination therapy will help. This is not only a chance to eliminate the tumor and the associated discomfort, but also to live a full life without posing a danger to others. Warts are treated with special medications and instrumental methods of removal; sometimes traditional medicine can also be used.
Medicines to treat warts on the heel
A wide range of medications are available to treat warts on the heel. They are divided into different groups according to their composition and the characteristics of their effect on the tumor and the virus that causes the disease.
Let's look at the main fund groups:
- Acidic substances. These medications are available from pharmacies without a prescription and are usually inexpensive. They have a pronounced corrosive effect. Salicylic acid gives good results. To remove warts on the heel, a solution with a concentration of 10-60% is required. The product should be used once daily until the tumor is completely destroyed. This substance is not suitable for patients with diabetes and cancer. An analogue of salicylic acid is trichloroacetic acid.
- Basic products. These substances have approximately the same effect on pathological tissues as the previous ones. They also burn the wart and cause the diseased areas of the dermis to die. The most popular drug from this group causes tissue necrosis and therefore must be used according to the instructions and with caution in relation to adjacent healthy tissue.
- Freezing medications. Until recently, heel warts were only frozen with liquid nitrogen in the hospital. Now this procedure can be carried out at home using special pharmaceutical preparations. A mixture of dimethyl alcohol and propane has proven successful. The refrigerant is liquid nitrogen. The product helps to remove warts on the heel and has a harmful effect on the papilloma virus. The use of this medicine also requires special caution so as not to cause damage to healthy tissue.
- Antiviral creams, gels, ointments. These remedies are effective because they act directly on the cause of the warts - HPV. However, a longer exposure to the tumor is usually required than with aggressive, caustic substances. One of the most effective drugs in this group is an ointment based on potato sprout extract. It has a herbal composition and stimulates the production of interferon in the body, disrupting the recovery process of viruses and leading to their rapid death.
- Immunomodulatory external agents. They are very effective when it comes to individual small warts on the heels. They help to stimulate the local immune response and the body independently suppresses the virus. Interferon-based ointments are popular. Long-term use is required - at least 4 weeks until a pronounced therapeutic effect occurs.
- Antiviral and immunomodulatory drugs in tablet form. If the concentration of HPV in the blood is high, the doctor may prescribe immunomodulatory or antiviral therapy using oral tablets. This suppresses the pathogen from within and avoids the risk of a relapse. This is particularly important in immunodeficiency states.
If local cauterizing agents for the treatment of warts on the heel can be used independently, following the instructions, oral medications should be prescribed by the attending physician only on the basis of these tests.
Instrumental methods for removing warts on the heels
Today there are several effective ways to remove a wart on the heel using various devices. Modern clinics can offer a number of highly effective instrumental techniques at different costs:
- Electrocoagulation. Heel warts that have progressed for a long time usually have their roots deep in the dermis. Electrocoagulation is not about penetrating deep into the soft tissue. Therefore, this method is used only to treat small, superficial formations. In addition, electrocoagulation often leaves scars.
- Cryodestruction. One of the most popular methods for removing warts on the heel is to use liquid nitrogen. In addition, this is a fairly inexpensive method of influence. Scars rarely remain after manipulation. However, the effectiveness of the method depends on the doctor's skills, since before removing the wart on the heel, it is necessary to accurately determine the depth of the roots of the growth. Otherwise, the tumor may reoccur. The operation is quick, as is the time for tissue regeneration.
- Laser removal. One of the most modern, minimally invasive methods for treating pathological skin growths. Allows a good cosmetic effect. In contrast to liquid nitrogen, the penetration depth of the laser beam can be easily adjusted. The procedure is short and almost painless. The wound on the heel also heals quickly and without complications. Relapses after laser treatment of warts on the heel are almost impossible.
- Distance from radio waves. In this case, the warts are excised using a special radio knife. At the same time, blood vessels are cauterized to prevent the virus from spreading to healthy tissue and preventing bleeding. Even after such an operation there is a short recovery period and almost no scars.
- Surgical excision. This method is considered outdated, but is used in a number of cases. For example, if the growth is very large and further histological examination of the removed tissue is required. The operation is very painful, is performed under local anesthesia and the recovery period can last several weeks. Bleeding and inflammation are also possible. Scars often form. A relative advantage of this method of treating warts on the heel is its low cost.
The decision on how to treat a wart on the heel rests with the patient and the treating doctor. Most often, the most gentle and minimally invasive techniques are chosen - laser and radio wave removal of growths.
Folk remedies for warts on the heels
If you have a wart on your heel and don't know what to do, you can try treating it at home with some remedies. So, acetic acid, celandine juice, garlic juice, etc. are popular among "traditional healers". These means are less effective than medicines or instrumental methods. However, with regular use, they can also have a positive effect. The main condition is not to interrupt treatment, until the growth has completely disappeared.
A real help in the treatment of warts on the heel can also be an immunomodulatory effect on the body using folk methods. To do this, take decoctions of the following plants: rosehip, coltsfoot, sea buckthorn, mint, chamomile, lemon balm, black currant and raspberry leaves, calendula. These plants strengthen immunity, especially in cold weather when there are not enough fresh fruits and vegetables. It also makes sense to consume freshly squeezed juices as well as various fruit drinks and compotes.
Prevention of warts on the heel
Preventing human papillomavirus infection is the most effective way to combat it. Therefore, adhere to the rules of personal hygiene, try not to use other people's things and always wear interchangeable shoes in public places.
If you are already infected with HPV and have warts on your heels, start treatment immediately. After eliminating the growths, carefully monitor the condition of your feet.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, only use shoes made from natural materials that are comfortable and breathable. If your feet are deformed, wear orthopedic shoes to relieve excessive stress on your feet.
Don't forget about hygienic pedicure and use moisturizers if the skin on your heels is dry. Avoid cracked heels. Simple prevention rules can prevent the recurrence of tumors.
Warts on the heels are potentially harmless neoplasms, but can cause significant discomfort to the patient as they put pressure on the tissue as they grow and cause pain. In addition, we should not forget that these are viral formations and therefore humans are the source of infection. Therefore, the treatment of warts on the heels must be carried out under medical supervision.