Plantar warts: what you need to know
Plantar warts are a common skin condition caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They appear as small, hard, flesh-colored growths on the bottom of the feet. They can be painful and cause discomfort when standing or walking.
What causes plantar warts?
Plantar warts are caused by certain types of HPV that usually enter the body through cuts or scratches in the skin. The virus loves warm, moist environments such as public showers and swimming pools. It is believed that contact with these surfaces can lead to infection.
Symptoms of plantar warts
The most obvious symptom associated with plantar warts is a hard, flesh-colored growth on the bottom of the foot. Plantar warts can also feel painful and cause discomfort when standing or walking. In some cases, multiple warts may appear in a group called a mosaic wart.
Diagnosis of plantar warts
Plantar warts are usually diagnosed by sight because they often have a characteristic appearance. However, your health care provider may use other tools, such as X-rays or a biopsy, to diagnose the condition more accurately if necessary.
Treatment of plantar warts
Depending on the size, location, and severity of the warts, there are several treatment options. Treatment usually involves removing the wart using one of the following methods: cryotherapy, surgical removal, or chemical treatments. Your health care provider can help you decide which option is best for your case.
Prevention of plantar warts
The best way to prevent warts is to maintain good hygiene and avoid contact with contaminated surfaces. Wear shower shoes in public showers and sandals when you are on pool decks or in other areas where HPV may be present. Also, keep your feet clean and dry and cover small cuts or scrapes on the bottom of your feet with a bandage to reduce the risk of infection.
Complications from plantar warts
In some cases, plantar warts can cause discomfort or pain that makes it difficult to walk or stand. They can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the hands and face. If a wart becomes infected, it may need to be treated with antibiotics.
When to see a doctor
If you notice unusual growths on your feet that cause discomfort or pain, it’s important to see your health care provider right away for proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s also important to see a doctor if you suspect your warts have spread or become infected.
Plantar warts are a common skin condition caused by HPV. The best way to prevent them is to maintain good hygiene, avoid contact with contaminated surfaces, keep your feet clean and dry, and cover small cuts or scratches on the bottom of your feet with a bandage. If you notice any unusual growths on your feet that cause discomfort or pain, it’s important to see your health care provider right away for proper diagnosis and treatment.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Plantar warts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-plantarwarts.htm
2 Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Plantar warts: symptoms and causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-warts/symptoms-causes/syc-20373938
3. American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). (2020). Plantar warts: facts, prevention, and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/warts-and-verrucas/plantar-warts
4. UPMC Pinnacle. (2018). Plantar warts: causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Retrieved from https://www.pinnacledermatologypa.com/blog/plantar-warts-causes-symptoms-treatment-prevention/.