What is a Plantar Wart?
A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly.
There are two types of plantar warts:
- A solitary wart is a single wart. It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional “satellite” warts.
- Mosaic warts are a cluster of several small warts growing closely together in one area. Mosaic warts are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a plantar wart may include:
- Thickened skin. Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue.
- Pain. A plantar wart usually hurts during walking and standing, and there is pain when the sides of the wart are squeezed.
- Tiny black dots. These often appear on the surface of the wart. The dots are actually dried blood contained in the infected capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
Plantar warts grow deep into the skin. Usually this growth occurs slowly-the wart starts off small and gets larger over time.
What Causes a Plantar Wart?
Plantar warts are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body. Typically, the plantar wart virus is acquired in public places where people go barefoot, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, and karate classes. It can also be acquired at home if other family members have the virus.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose a plantar wart, the foot and ankle surgeon will examine the patient’s foot and look for signs and symptoms of a wart.
The New Mexico Foot and Ankle Institute offers numerous treatment modalities for the treatment of plantar warts. These include the typical treatment options of cutting-out the warts, freezing the warts, shaving the warts, using chemicals/acid on the warts, burning the warts and prescription medication to be applied by the patient.