A wart is a benign lesion caused by a virus infection that can occur anywhere on the body.

They usually look like a tiny cauliflower projecting from the skin, except when they occur on the bottom of the foot. Warts on the bottom of the foot, or plantar warts, grow "into" the foot instead of "out" of the foot due to the constant 'weight of the body.

A summer wart picked up by walking barefoot can lay dormant for months and be noticed in the winter. Warts are clear and encapsulated, usually with dark brown, black, or rust-colored spots caused from small blood vessels. Normal skin lines stop at the outer border of a wart.

Warts can appear singly or in a multiple cluster called mosaic warts and can multiply rapidly. Warts occur most commonly in children and adolescents and often occur in people with hyperhidrosis, or sweaty feet.

Warts, which often resemble a callous, are more sensitive to lateral (side-to-side) pressure while callouses are more sensitive to direct pressure.

There are many different ways to treat warts and they can re-occur with any type of treatment, frustrating both patient and doctor. There is no fast or best way to treat warts. The traditional method is surgical excision of the wart with stitches. The disadvantages of this method are that the patient must remain completely off-weight-bearing for proper healing of the incision and there is also the possibility of painful scar tissue forming.

Chemical cautery is the destruction of wart tissue through the use of topical solutions and ointments of acids and caustics. This type of treatment is lengthy but there is less chance of re-occurrence and the formation of scar tissue.

Other methods of treatment include laser surgery to destroy the wart tissue and curettage, or scraping of the wart tissue.

A wart may seem to be a small problem but it is often quite painful on weight-bearing areas which can lead to inconvenience and a halt to physical activities. One should learn to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons & has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.

For info visit his Web site at www.stamford

healthmedicalgroup.org, and find a Physician-Dr. Robert F. Weiss.