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Are Plantar Warts More Common in Runners?

Are Plantar Warts More Common in Runners?

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or picking up the habit as part of your New Year’s resolution, you may know that the joy of hitting the pavement comes with a few foot-related issues. Runner’s nail and blisters are par for the course, but surprisingly, plantar warts are also more common in runners. 

The good news is that with a few precautionary steps, you can reduce your risk of running-related foot issues from bruised nails, blisters, and warts. Our team of experts here at Momentum Foot & Ankle Clinic are experts when it comes to preventing, diagnosing, and treating running foot injuries, so don’t hesitate to visit us in  Michigan City, Chesterton, Indiana, or Lombard, Illinois.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about plantar warts in runners.

What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These warts typically appear on the soles of your feet, often in weight-bearing areas such as your heels or balls of your feet ( the slightly padded areas under your foot just further down from your toes). 

Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow inward because of the pressure applied during standing or walking. You might notice a callus (thick patch of skin) that covers where the wart has grown inward.

Why are runners susceptible to plantar warts?

While plantar warts can affect anyone, runners may be more susceptible because of certain factors associated with the sport. Here are some reasons why runners might be at an increased risk:

Frequent foot trauma

The repetitive impact of running can lead to small, often unnoticed injuries on the soles of your feet. These microtraumas provide potential entry points for HPV and increase the risk of developing plantar warts.

Frequent use of communal shower areas

Running often involves prolonged exposure to warm and moist environments, such as gym showers or communal changing areas. These conditions create an environment conducive to the transmission of the virus that causes plantar warts.

Reminder: If you shower in your local gym, wear shower shoes to prevent picking up any unwanted viral or fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Preventive measures

The benefits of running far outweigh the risks of developing a wart. Running reduces your risk of heart disease, improves your memory, boosts your immune system, and even helps ward off anxiety and depression. 

You can reduce your risk of developing a wart by:

Keeping your feet clean and dry

After you shower, dry your feet thoroughly, especially the areas between the toes. If you can’t shower immediately after a run, at least change into dry socks and shoes afterward.

Pro tip: Always keep an extra pair of socks in your gym bag. Merino wool running socks wick away moisture, resist odors,  and help regulate temperature. As a bonus, they also help prevent another running woe: blisters. 

Invest in good running shoes

Choose running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning. Properly fitting shoes can help reduce the risk of foot injuries and minimize the impact on the soles of the feet.

Never walk barefoot in public

Steer clear of walking barefoot in communal areas, such as gym showers or swimming pool decks. Consider wearing flip-flops or shower shoes to protect your feet.

What to do if you have a wart

Because warts hurt when you put weight on your feet, you can find temporary relief by placing a donut-shaped mole foam piece around the wart. This helps alleviate some of the pressure, but it’s just a temporary reprieve. You’ll still need to treat the wart.

Over-the-counter wart remedies exist, but too often they provide symptom relief without targeting the root. You may need a higher-strength product to fully reach the root of the wart. 

If you notice any suspicious growths or experience discomfort on the soles of your feet, seek prompt medical attention here at Momentum Foot & Ankle Clinic. Early treatment can help prevent the spread of plantar warts — they spread quickly from toe to toe and also from person to person — and reduce the risk of complications.

Dr. Mahmood offers several different types of wart treatments, including:

Regardless of which treatment method you need, the goal is to reduce your symptoms (so you can run comfortably!) and eliminate your HPV infection.

Think you have a wart? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mahmood here in Michigan City, Chesterton, Indiana, or Lombard, Illinois. Call or click to get started! 

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