Plantar Warts

Planta warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of the foot that can be quite painful. They are caused by a virus, which generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but technically only those on the sole are properly called plantar warts. Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults. Some people seem to be immune.


Most warts are harmless, even though they may be painful. They are often mistaken for corns or calluses, which are layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is being continuously irritated. The wart, however, is a viral infection.

Plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, with a rough surface and well-defined boundaries. Plantar warts are generally raised and fleshier when they appear on the top of the foot or on the toes. Plantar warts are often gray or brown (but the color may vary), with a center that appears as one or more pinpoints of black or red. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency to reoccur.

Causes of Plantar Warts

  • Walking barefoot on dirty surfaces or littered ground where the virus is lurking
  • The causative virus thrives in warm, moist environments, making infection a common occurrence in communal bathing facilities
  • If left untreated, warts can grow to an inch or more in circumference and can spread into clusters of several warts; these are often called mosaic warts
  • Plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching, or even by contact with skin shed from another wart
  • Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time

Wart Prevention

  • Avoid walking barefoot, except on sandy beaches
  • Change shoes and socks daily
  • Keep feet clean and dry
  • Check children’s feet periodically
  • Avoid direct contact with warts from other persons or from other parts of the body
  • Do not ignore growths on, or changes in, your skin

Plantar Wart Treatment

  • Medication – includes commercially prepared and prescription-strength preparations to be applied at regular intervals
  • Self-treatment – over-the-counter preparations contain acids or chemicals that destroy skin cells without also destroying surrounding healthy tissue
  • Excision – when a plantar wart is non-responsive to conservative treatments, surgical excision may be the best option for wart removal

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