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When Warts Return: Tackling Stubborn Plantar Warts With Bleomycin

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If you've tried all the at-home treatment methods, and your warts are still stubbornly growing and spreading, it's time to visit a podiatrist in your area in order to get some more advanced treatment. Plantar warts are the most stubborn, and treatment can be painful but successful if done right. Your podiatrist will probably use the most effective, and currently the most innovative, treatment: he or she will use bleomycin, which is about 96% effective in curing plantar warts. 

What is bleomycin?

Bleomycin is actually a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat certain tumors. However, this should not scare you off. When it comes to treating warts, only small amounts of the drug are used, and it is isolated to the exact location of the wart.

What is the procedure like?

First, the doctor will carefully examine the affected area, to make sure of the exact number of warts. Since plantar warts spread easily, it's important to treat them all at once. 

Then, using a scalpel, he will carefully remove the top layer of the wart skin, in order to make sure that the drug can easily penetrate the wart. This can be slightly uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be overly painful.

Then, using an specialized "gun" loaded with compressed air, bleomycin, and a numbing agent, the podiatrist will inject the drug into the wart using highly pressurized air through a thin exit. The air forces the medicine through the skin, often causing a small blood blister to form behind the wart. The podiatrist may use several shots with the injector for many warts, or warts that are quite large.

Usually, the injection site bleeds slightly during the procedure, so your foot will be bandaged. 

What is the recovery and prognosis?

Directly after your procedure, the treated area will be quite tender. You may not be able to put all your weight on the foot, or wear certain shoes, like high heels. If you play sports, you may want to take it easy, as high activity could be quite painful. However, after a few days the pain will subside, and you should be able to go about your business as normal.

Usually, it takes a few weeks before the body begins heal and the warts are ready to be fully removed. They may begin to lift off on their own as the blisters underneath the wart fully heal. The bleomycin will usually kill the wart, but if, at the follow-up appointment, the podiatrist notices that the wart is not fully eradicated, he or she may give a second dose in order to finish the job.