Plantar warts are skin growths found on the bottom of the foot or toes caused by a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). Plantar warts are not harmful to the body and many will go away on their own after some time. Depending on the location, however, plantar warts can cause some discomfort.
Plantar warts often look like a small, hard growth on the bottom of your foot. Because of the pressure caused by the wart being on the bottom of the foot, they can grow inward and leave only the hardened skin over a noticeable spot as a clue. There are sometimes black dots which people refer to as “wart seeds,” though in reality the black dots are caused by clotted blood vessels.
Plantar warts are spread through contact. This means if a person with a plantar wart uses a public shower without wearing shoes, other people using the shower may pick up the virus. The virus needs a way in, though. Only if your foot comes in contact with the virus at the point where the skin is cracked or cut can the virus enter your body. Even still, every immune system reacts differently to this strain of HPV. Coming in contact with it does not necessarily mean you will develop a plantar wart.
You are more susceptible to plantar warts if you:
- Have had plantar warts in the past
- Have a weak immune system
- Are a child or teenager
- Routinely walk barefoot in areas prone to having the virus (i.e., public pools, showers, or saunas)
Plantar warts may go away organically. If not, you can try one of several treatment options. There are over-the-counter options available at your local pharmacy.
If the warts are causing you pain or are spreading (creating a cluster of plantar warts), you may want to see a podiatrist. Doctors will often choose one of two options for treating plantar warts: salicylic acid or cryotherapy. Salicylic acid works to eat away at the tough, calloused skin covering the wart and eventually eat away at the wart itself. Cryotherapy involved freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. These two treatments can also be combined to be more effective, depending on the situation.
The Dr. Beth Pearce, part of the Foot and Ankle Center at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, is well versed in treating plantar warts and would be happy to help if you are suffering from or have further questions regarding plantar warts. Please feel free to request an appointment online or call us at 904-825-0540.