Health Library

Plantar Warts

Definition

Plantar warts are hard, flat growths on the soles of the feet. They often grow in clusters.

Plantar Wart
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Causes

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). A person can get the virus by walking barefoot on unsanitary surfaces. Touching and scratching can cause the virus to spread.

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Contact with an infected person or surface
  • Having a weakened immune system due to:
    • HIV infection
    • Taking medicine that suppresses the immune system

Symptoms

Plantar warts may cause:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Hard, flat growths on the soles of the feet
  • A rough surface with a defined border
  • A center with pinpoints of black

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your feet. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. You may need to see a doctor who treats the skin or feet.

Treatment

The goal of treatment in healthy children and adults is to remove the wart and stop the virus from spreading. This can be done with:

  • Duct tape to cover the wart and a pumice stone to sand it down
  • Over the counter or prescription wart remover medicine
  • Cryotherapy—freezing the warts to kill the virus
  • Laser treatment—using a laser to kill the virus and destroy wart tissue

Prevention

The best way to lower the risk of plantar warts is to take steps to protect feet from the virus:

  • Do not share shoes or socks with someone who has the virus.
  • Keep feet dry and change socks every day.
  • Wear plastic sandals when going to public pools or using public bathrooms and showers.

Resources

The American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

American Podiatric Medical Association
http://www.apma.org

Canadian Resources

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

Canadian Podiatric Medical Association
http://www.podiatrycanada.org

References

Plantar wart. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/plantar-wart . Updated January 27, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Sterling JC, Gibbs S, et al. British Association of Dermatologists' guidelines for the management of cutaneous warts 2014. Br J Dermatol. 2014 Oct;171(4):696-712.

Warts. American Podiatric Medical Association website. Available at: https://www.apma.org/warts. Accessed December 10, 2019.