Plantar warts are growths on the soles of the feet. They are often mistaken for
corns or calluses. They grow in clusters and are usually flat. Plantar warts can often be distinguished by numerous black dots visible on their surfaces.
Although plantar warts are generally harmless, their location beneath the feet can make them very tender. They also have a tendency to spread locally to other sites on the foot and elsewhere.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your feet will be examined. Some doctors may wish to refer difficult cases to specialists. Podiatrists focus on foot disorders. Dermatologists focus on skin disorders.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat warts. These therapies often contain a mild acid. You can usually apply them when a wart first appears.
Another popular and less expensive treatment is using duct tape to cover a wart for a week at a time. This is also done with weekly “sanding” of the wart with a pumice stone.
You should see a doctor:
For recurrent warts
For those that fail to respond to initial treatment
When over-the-counter therapies are not well-tolerated
When the diagnosis is unclear
After confirming the diagnosis of plantar warts, the doctor may use one or more of the following:
Cryotherapy—freezing the warts to kill the virus
Laser treatment—using a laser to kill the virus and destroy wart tissue
Electrocautery treatment—burning the wart
Hyperthermia treatment—applying heat to kill the virus
Surgical removal—cutting out the warts (with anesthetic)
Immune therapy—application of substances that stimulate the immune system’s response to the wart-causing virus
The best ways to prevent plantar warts is to keep your feet from coming into contact with the virus that causes them. Ways to do this include:
Avoid walking barefoot, except on sandy beaches.
Wear plastic sandals when showering in public bathrooms.
Change your shoes and socks daily.
Keep your feet clean and dry.
Avoid direct contact with warts, either from other people or from other parts of the body.
Warts. American Podiatric Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.apma.org/learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=989. Accessed September 1, 2017.
7/30/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115786/Plantar-wart: Huo W, Gao XH, Sun XP, et al. Local hyperthermia at 44 degrees C for the treatment of plantar warts: a randomized, patient-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. J Infect Dis. 2010;201(8):1169-1172.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 9/10/2012
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