A client came in for a pedicure with what looked like warts all over the back of her heels, up and around the sides of the ankles. They were small and perfectly round, no liquid inside, very dry and hard, with a touch of whitish pink color to them. She said she’d had them a long time. She said it was just dry skin (she called them skin tags) and she told me she files them right off. She is taking medication for her heart and to lower her cholesterol. What is this condition? Is it contagious? Is it OK to proceed with a pedicure?
Dr. Rich: Diagnosis of skin lesions based only on a description can be a dangerous sport. While there are numerous things that meet your description, the first thing that comes to mind is a variant of seborrheic keratosis called “stucco kertosis” because the nodules look a bit like someone spattered stucco on the skin. They are harmless, come by the hundreds, appear as we age, and can be treated by freezing or even scraping or filling, but they almost always come back. They are not contagious. The tendency to get them is often inherited. Warts would be less likely but possible, and some skin rashes like psoriasis could have that appearance. Her doctor should be able to diagnose the condition and help her manage it. Don’t work on the skin until you know for sure.