Plantar Warts

Plantar Warts

What are Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts or verruca plantaris is a viral infection of the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It develops on the underside (plantar) of the foot and creates an area of hard, thickened skin. Patients often complain of pain when pressure is applied to the affected areas. Plantar warts are often misdiagnosed as calluses or corns due to their similarity in appearance.

Types of Plantar Warts

There are 2 types of plantar warts – solitary wart and mosaic warts.

A solitary wart is characterized by a single wart lesion at one affected region and can often grow to a large size. Mosaic warts, however, form a cluster of small satellite wart lesions and spreads to the surrounding area.

Causes of Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection on the outer layer of the skin, typically through a small opening or skin breaks. The virus triggers excessive production of keratin, causing an area of hard, thickened skin to develop. A wart lesion can take weeks to show up after an infection.

Although HPV is linked to cancer development, plantar warts are non-cancerous skin growths and are totally treatable.

Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Warts

Signs and symptoms of plantar warts include:

  • Hard, thickened skin growths on the affected area
  • Skin growths often resemble cauliflower appearance
  • Dark-red spots of thrombosed capillaries may be present
  • Loss of skin striation over the affected area (loss of “fingerprints”)
  • Pain is reproduced when the area is pinched

Plantar Warts Treatment

The treatment of plantar warts can be tedious and the principle behind the treatment options is to trigger an immune response from our body to fight the virus.

Treatment options for plantar warts include:

Your podiatrist should recommend the best treatment approach based on the severity of the wart lesion.

Prevention of Plantar Warts

Plantar warts often develop in individuals who frequent communal areas such as swimming pools or public showers.

To prevent or reduce the risk of getting plantar warts, it is best to:

  • Avoid sharing footwear or towels
  • Avoid being barefooted in communal areas
  • Clean and dry both feet thoroughly during showers
  • Clean and cover any cuts or skin breaks

It is important to understand that plantar warts can be contagious, and one should avoid sharing footwear or having excessive skin-to-skin contact with an individual with wart lesions.

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