What are plantar warts?

Warts are tiny, hard benign growths that appear at the surface of your skin. They occur when a certain strand of the human papillomavirus (HPV) infects your body, usually by entering through a cut or break in the skin. When your skin becomes infected by HPV, it causes your cells to grow at an increased rate, causing the surface layer of your skin to thicken and harden, forming a wart.

Warts can develop on any area of your body, but they most commonly appear on the hands and feet. Warts that form on the foot are known as plantar warts and typically develop on areas of your foot that bear weight, such as your heels. The weight placed on your feet can also cause plantar warts to grow inward, this is known as a callus.

Although plantar warts are typically harmless, they can sometimes cause pain. If you have plantar warts that are causing discomfort or unsightly bumps, treatment options for wart removal are available. Speak with your doctor or a foot specialist to learn more.

What causes plantar warts?

Plantar warts develop when a specific strand of the human papillomavirus infects the sole of your foot, usually through a break or cut in the skin of your foot. You can become infected with the virus by sharing certain personal items, such as razors or towels. You can also spread your own infection throughout your own body if you touch one of your warts and then touch another area of your body.

While exposure to HPV can cause plantar warts, other factors, such as the strength of your immune system, may determine how your body will react to the virus and whether you develop plantar warts. Factors that may increase your chances of developing plantar warts may include:

  • Having a weak immune system
  • If you developed warts in the past
  • Walking barefoot in certain areas, such as locker rooms

What are plantar warts symptoms?

The most notable sign of a plantar wart, or any wart, is the appearance of a small, thick, hard growth on the surface of your skin. Plantar warts can develop inward and be flat, or they can develop outward, forming a bump. The number of warts that form varies from person to person and can range from having just one to having many. Other symptoms of plantar warts may include:

  • A lesion or growth that develops at the bottom of your foot
  • A lesion in the grooves or lines of your foot
  • The formation of a callus, which indicates that the wart is growing inward
  • Tiny black dots developing in the wart, also known as wart seeds
  • Difficulty walking or standing due to foot pain

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or would like to learn about treatment solutions for wart removal, an appointment with your doctor or a podiatrist can help you discover more about your treatment options.

How are plantar warts diagnosed?

Plantar warts can be diagnosed by your doctor or by a foot specialist, also known as a podiatrist, who will carefully examine and assess the growth. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be needed for further diagnosis.

Can plantar warts lead to complications if left untreated?

Although plantar warts are noncancerous and do not lead to any serious complications, left untreated, they may spread to other areas of your body or cause pain when standing or walking.

How are plantar warts treated?

Plantar warts are usually not a cause for concern, and they may even disappear on their own in a few years. However, if you are experiencing foot pain or if the plantar warts are spreading and causing unsightly bumps on your foot and other areas of your body, your doctor or a podiatrist can recommend a variety of treatment options to help aid in the removal of plantar warts. Treatment options for plantar wart removal may include:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Cryotherapy
  • Immune therapy
  • Electrosurgery
  • Curettage
  • Laser treatment

Because plantar warts are caused by a virus, they may reappear even after treatment or surgical removal. Speak with your doctor or podiatrist to learn more.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of plantar warts, consult a podiatrist. Dr. Robert Stein is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who has been in practice for over 25 years and strives to ensure that adults and children live without foot pain or discomfort. Call one of our locations or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment with South Shore Foot Care today.

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