Do you have questions about foot care? We have answers.

Do you have questions about foot injuries or the causes of foot pain? Tanglewood Foot Specialists provides the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about foot injuries and foot care. If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk to a doctor about your foot pain, call Tanglewood Foot Specialists at (713) 785-7881.

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  • Is a plantar wart the same as a callus?

    A plantar wart and callus are two different things. A callus is a thickening of the skin in an area of high pressure. The outer layer of the skin is "dead" but puts adds to pressure beneath the foot, often causing pain. Treatment for a callus includes padding and the safe removal of the dead skin, often by a foot doctor in Houston.

    A planters wart is a manifestation of a virus on the foot, known as a verruca. A wart can occur anywhere, but a "plantar" wart is specific to the bottom of the foot. While a wart and callus appear similar, they are treated in different ways. A wart becomes intertwined with the healthy skin and is fed by blood vessels. The goal of treatment for a wart is to eliminate the wart tissue but preserve the healthy skin without injury or scarring.

  • What is a plantar wart?

    A plantar wart is a growth, usually on the bottom of the foot, caused by a virus. Just as there is no medication to eliminate other viruses, such as a cold, there is no treatment for the wart itself, only treatments that address the symptom, the planters wart itself. Warts can occur throughout the body, but the term "plantar" specifically describes a wart on the foot. The wart is also known as verruca plantaris.

    The virus responsible for the wart forming is the human papilloma virus (HPV). It typically is introduced into the body through a crack in the skin. Sometimes a single wart forms, but often it can spread, forming patches of two, three, and more warts together. In our Houston foot care practice we've seen patients with over one hundred warts on a foot. It is best not to ignore a wart and you should see your Houston foot specialist to treat it before it spreads.

  • Why is it called a plantar wart?

    A plantar wart, also called a planters wart or verruca plantaris, is a wart on the bottom of the foot. The word "plantar" describes the bottom of the foot. A wart, or verruca, can be anywhere on the body but a plantar wart can only be found on the foot.

    A plantar wart can best be treated by a Houston podiatrist. Because the skin on the bottom of the foot is thicker than the rest of the body. Because of this, many treatments that is effective to eliminate warts elsewhere is not useful beneath the foot.

  • Do any OTC medicines help plantar warts?

    There are many over-the-counter remedies to treat plantar warts. Each remedy has an active ingredient that should aid in eliminating warts. Unfortunately, because they are over-the-counter, they are not often strong enough to take care of most warts. For small warts, early in their formation, an OTC treatment could work. For larger or multiple warts, the over-the-counter solution is not usually the answer.

    If you decide to try an OTC wart remover, be sure to use a pummus stone or callus file to remove the dead skin on the wart. This should be done each time the medicine is reapplied. I don't recommend the commercially available treatment that freezes the wart. It is significantly less potent than what your podiatrist or dermatologist might use in their office and simply does not penetrate deeply enough for the wart to be destroyed. I do recommend visiting our podiatry office in Houston, TX to ensure the wart is being treated in the most complete and effective way.

  • Is there any oral medication for plantar warts?

    Because a plantar wart is a manifestation of a virus, there is no medication to eliminate it. Viruses typically are left to run their course. Just like a cold, you don't treat the virus itself, but you do treat the symptoms.

    There are some who believe that oral cimetidine, commonly known as the heartburn medication Tagamet, will help to eliminate warts. It is reported that there is some slow success in children, but most don't use it as a primary treatment Instead, it is used if there is a widespread infection of warts while other treatments are being used as well.

  • Can I get ingrown nails from a pedicure?

    You can get ingrown toenails from a pedicure. You also can get a fungal infection and even a staph infection. That, however, is not a reason to never get a pedicure. There are unscrupulous nail salon owners and operators who do not sanitize their equipment. They ruin their reputation and also those of pedicurists who do what they should.  

    To ensure you are getting a safe pedicure in Houston, TX, ask how the instruments and equipment are sanitized. Get a recommendation for a pedicurist from a trusted friend. It's important that the pedicurist trims the nails properly; not doing anything that may create an ingrown toenail. Most importantly, the cuticles should not be pushed back like you may be accustomed to when you get a manicure. Doing so increases the risk for infection.


    People with diabetes should take extra caution before getting a pedicure. Notify the pedicurist that you are diabetic (the good ones will ask). They will be less aggressive in their care and can tell you if they see anything that a podiatrist should manage. Of course, your Houston podiatrist is always available after a pedicure if you are concerned that anything is wrong.

  • What are ingrown toenails?

    An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail imbeds itself in the surrounding skin. This leads to the skin around the toenail becoming red, inflamed, painful, and often infected. An infected ingrown toenail makes it painful to wear shoes. It usually does not improve with antibiotics alone. In order for the infection to resolve, the offending nail must be removed from the skin.  

    The knee-jerk reaction that I see from most is the "do-it-yourself" approach. Many of my Houston patients decide that they have a future in "bathroom surgery" and dig out the piece of the nail. This usually causes the ingrown toenail to become worse. The only way to most properly and completely treat an ingrown toenail is to visit your Houston foot doctor.

  • Are ingrown toenails from cutting my nails wrong?

    Ask most about the proper way to trim a toenail and the answer is likely to be "straight across." Following that advice would generally keep you out of trouble. When people cut their toenails, especially if they are feeling pain from a nail starting to grow in, they tend to angle the sides. This is asking for a problem. When a toenail begins to dig in to the toe, it occurs at a deep level where you aren't able to easily reach without causing yourself pain.  

    Most ingrown toenails are not caused from cutting the nails wrong, however.  They are made worse when you try to perform your own ingrown toenail surgery.  The ingrown toenail typically occurs when the toenail is too wide for the nail bed. It's simply the way you were made, nothing you can do to change it.  If you notice a redness, bulging, or pain on the sides of your toenails, your best bet is to visit your Houston podiatrist to have it evaluated and properly treated.

  • Can I get ingrown nails from not cutting my nails often enough?

    There are a lot of people in my Houston podiatry practice who philosophize as to why they get ingrown toenails.  One is not cutting their toenails often enough.  This generally is not a cause for ingrown toenails.  Depending on the shape of the toenail, however, how frequently you trim your toenails can play a role in how comfortable the toenails are.  

    Some people have particularly curved toenails.  When left untrimmed, there is pressure from the top of sides of the shoe that presses the toenail into the skin, causing discomfort, inflammation, and infection.  Others have a toenail that folds over the end of the toe. As the toenail grows, the nail can grow into the end of the toe, again becoming painful and inflamed.  In these cases, keeping the toenail trimmed regularly will be helpful in preventing a toenail from becoming ingrown.


    It is beneficial for everyone to maintain their feet and toenails regularly. Long toenails can catch on shoes and socks, causing them to tear away.  This is a very painful, and often bloody, situation. Trauma of this type can lead to infection, fungus infection, and permanent deformity of the toenail.

  • Is it true toenails should be cut straight across?

    The most common advice people offer on proper toenail trimming is that toenails should be cut straight across. This has been passed down from parents to children and pediatrician to patients for years. In many cases, trimming the toenails in this fashion will prevent problems with the toenail itself. Everyone is different, however, and some require different treatment to stay the most comfortable.  

    As we age, it is natural for the toenails to curve more. This happens because the natural support to the toenail wears away and the toenails folds around the bone beneath it. While this does not happen to everyone, it is very common. In these cases, trimming the toenail straight across will result in sharp corners of the toenail digging into the skin. People whose toenails grow in this fashion would be better served by slightly rounding the corners of the toenail, either when they are being trimmed or using a file to do so afterwards.  This will relieve the pressure on the skin and keep the toes comfortable.


    A word of caution, however. Do not mistake "slightly rounding the corners" to mean "dig out the sides of the toenail."  If the toe is painful, whether before or after you trim the toenail, stop what you are doing and get it properly evaluated and treated by your foot doctor in Houston, TX. I guarantee it will be less painful than doing it yourself!