Plantar wart

Plantar warts are noncancerous (benign) skin growths that develop on the bottom of the foot and usually appear as areas of thick, tough skin similar to calluses. They can be on any part of the foot, but they cause the most discomfort when they are on a pressure point such as the heel.

The cause of plantar warts is a virus (human papillomavirus, or HPV). This virus is contagious and may be spread from:

  • Warts on another part of the body.
  • Contact with another person who has warts.
  • Contact with a warm, moist environment, where this virus can thrive.

It takes 1 to 8 months for a plantar wart to appear after a person has first been exposed to the virus. Symptoms and signs of plantar warts may include:

  • Pain when walking or standing (it may feel like walking on a pebble).
  • A callused area on the sole of the foot surrounding or covering a wart. The size of the callused area may range from the size of a pinhead to a few inches (or centimeters) in diameter.
  • A tiny, dark dot or dots in the center of the wart (not always visible).

Plantar warts are often hard to get rid of, no matter what treatment is used, and they often recur. But within 2 years or so, warts usually disappear with or without treatment. Treatment to get rid of warts may include nonprescription and prescription medicines or minor surgery.

Last Updated: September 11, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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