Foot Warts: What You Need to Know

Foot warts are one of many skin conditions of the foot that can be quite painful. They are caused by a virus, called the human papilloma virus. It generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but technically only those on the sole of the foot are called plantar warts. Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults; some people seem to be immune.

Are plantar warts contagious?

The plantar wart is often contracted by walking barefoot on surfaces where the virus is lurking. Plantar warts are highly contagious. The virus thrives in warm, moist environments, making infection a common occurrence in locker rooms, saunas, public shower facilities and around pools. If left untreated, warts can grow to an inch or more wide and can spread into clusters of several warts; these are often called mosaic warts. Like any other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching, or even by contact with skin shed from another wart. The wart may also bleed, another route for spreading.

Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time and just as frequently, they can recur in the same location. When plantar warts develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot, such as the heel, they can be the source of sharp, burning pain.

Identification Problems with Plantar Warts

Most warts are harmless, even though they may be painful. They can be mistaken for corns or calluses, which are areas of dead skin that build up to protect an area which is continuously being irritated. The wart, however, is a viral infection.

It is also possible for a variety of more serious lesions to appear on the foot, including skin cancer. Although quite rare, these serious conditions can sometimes be misidentified as a wart. It is best to consult a BioPed Chiropodist (an Ontario Foot Specialist) when any suspicious skin markings or foot pain is detected in order to ensure a correct diagnosis.

Plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, with a rough surface. “Black dots” can sometimes be seen centrally. On the top of the feet or on the toes, the warts are generally raised and fleshier. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency to reoccur.

Treatment of Plantar Warts

There are many over-the-counter wart treatments available. However, many warts can be stubborn and do not respond to the drugstore treatment. Our registered foot specialists (Chiropodists) can use clinical strength medicines and special procedures to rid you of your warts once and for all.

Tips for Prevention of Plantar Warts

  • Avoid walking barefoot, except on sandy beaches. Wear a supportive flip flop around the pool, in locker rooms, hotel rooms, showers and other public places
  • Change shoes and socks daily
  • Keep feet clean and dry. Use Footlogix sweaty feet formula to minimize dampness in a sweaty foot
  • Check children’s feet periodically
  • Avoid direct contact with warts—from other persons or from other parts of the body
  • Do not ignore growths on, or changes in, your skin
  • Visit your BioPed Chiropodist as part of your annual health checkup


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