Plantar Warts: symptoms, causes and treatments

Updated 12/18/2023
Plantar Wart, Univeristy Foot and Ankle Institute

What are plantar warts?


Plantar warts are rough, hardened warts that grow in the outer layers of skin on the soles of the feet. Unlike other types of warts, such as filiform warts, which can appear on the neck, or periungual warts found on the hands, plantar warts only affect the feet—making podiatrists the best choice for plantar wart treatment!


Typically, they appear on the areas of your feet that bear the most weight: the balls and heels. Due to the pressure from the foot, plantar warts may start to grow inward instead of outward, causing them to appear as flat warts instead of raised foot bumps or lumps. Sometimes, these skin-colored warts may also develop under a callus.


Also known as verrucas, plantar warts are caused by the same virus that causes common warts: the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are two plantar wart types: singular and mosaic, the latter being where several plantar wart lesions fuse in a cluster. Plantar warts are common in children, but they can affect adults too. Despite their prevalence, most plantar warts don’t require invasive treatment.






What are the symptoms of plantar warts?

The primary indicator of a plantar wart is its location: the bottom of the foot. Plantar warts only grow on the soles of the feet and do not resemble warts on other parts of the body. The most common place for plantar warts to form is on the heels or balls of the feet, where some of them grow through several layers of skin.


Symptoms of a plantar wart include:


  • Small patches of rough, grainy flesh in either round or irregular shapes on the soles of your feet.
  • Singular warts or clusters of growths.
  • White or yellowish growths with black dots in the center. The black spots are often called “seeds,” but they’re small blood vessels that have grown into the wart.
  • A patch of irregular skin that disrupts the grooves in your foot.
  • Pain when bearing weight on the wart.


Plantar warts aren’t necessarily a cause for concern, as most are benign. However, deep warts can be painful, and many people find them uncomfortable. If a plantar wart on the bottom of your foot is causing you pain, it could lead to a change in the way you walk, which can lead to other injuries.


What causes plantar warts on feet?

Plantar warts occur when HPV enters your body through tiny breaks in the skin on the bottom of your feet.


While more than 100 kinds of HPV exist, only a few of them cause plantar warts. However, it’s possible to come into contact with the virus almost anywhere, and as HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact, plantar warts are contagious. 


The virus is also spread through contact with moist surfaces on which the virus can live, such as community showers, pool areas, and locker rooms.



What is plantar warts hone treatment?

Many plantar warts heal without treatment, but it could take anywhere from a few months to two years. Some plantar warts can be treated at home to get rid of the wart faster or alleviate symptoms. 


If the pain is not significantly impacting your life, you can try these treatment options before seeing our doctor:


  • Well-fitting, cushioned shoes can relieve some of the pressure, reducing pain and improving your gait.
  • Over-the-counter wart removal kits can be found at most pharmacies. If your wart isn’t responding to these treatments, follow up with our podiatrists for evaluation.


Professional treatment for plantar warts

If you have already tried at-home remedies, or your wart is causing you pain and affecting your gait, you may wish to see our foot and ankle specialists. We have multiple possible treatment options for removing these annoying skin growths.


Some of our wart treatments include:


Peeling medication 

Our podiatrist may prescribe you a stronger topical solution of salicylic acid, which kills the wart by destroying and peeling away layers of affected skin. The acid also irritates the area around the wart, encouraging your immune system to attack the virus. Our doctor may also remove the wart’s top layers with an emery board before applying salicylic acid gel.



Cryotherapy involves freezing your plantar wart with liquid nitrogen, enabling its removal. Our doctor first numbs the skin around the wart and applies the nitrogen with a spray or cotton swab. Your skin reacts to the rapid freezing by forming a blister around the wart. Cryotherapy can also trigger your immune system to attack the wart. 


The blister will dry up and flake off, taking the wart with it, usually within 4 to 10 days. Most plantar warts take three to four sessions of cryotherapy to heal, and your skin may be permanently discolored. 


Acid patches 

Our doctor lightly shaves the topmost layer of the wart and applies a coat of strong acid; this usually requires a few applications.


Antiviral creams 

An antiviral cream stimulates your immune response, helping your body fight the infection over a few weeks.



Bleomycin is injected into the wart using a Dermo-Jet, which uses air to deliver the medication instead of a hypodermic needle, allowing us to place the medicine in the correct skin layer with less pain. University Foot & Ankle Institute is one of the few clinics in the country to use this highly effective treatment.


Plantar wart surgery

Surgical treatment is uncommon but can be a last resort for plantar warts that don’t respond to other treatments. After numbing the area, our doctor removes the wart through excision or destroys it using cauterization with an electric needle or laser treatment. Because scarring is a common side effect, surgery is generally only used when all other treatments have failed. 


Plantar wart removal recovery can take up to four weeks, during which your activity is limited.


Is plantar wart prevention possible?

HPV viruses are easily transmissible in warm, wet environments. Although not everyone who comes in contact with the virus will develop warts, it’s best to take precautions. To decrease your risk of developing a plantar wart, make sure to:


  • Avoid walking barefoot in public, especially in moist places. Wear sandals in the sauna, while taking a shower in a public locker room, or when walking around a swimming pool.
  • Take measures to keep your feet clean and dry. Dry your feet thoroughly after showers and avoid wearing wet socks for prolonged periods.
  • Don’t share files or emery boards, or use these items on healthy skin and nails after using them on a plantar wart.


Additionally, take extra care to protect your feet from infection if you have:


  • Cuts or scrapes on the bottom of your foot
  • Feet that have been softened by exposure to water
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system


UFAI, the best choice for your plantar wart care


Our nationally recognized podiatrists at the University Foot and Ankle Institute pride themselves in offering the most advanced care in a compassionate, relaxed environment. Our specialists in skin conditions affecting the feet can create a treatment plan tailored to your podiatry needs.


For a consultation please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.


University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. Our foot and ankle surgeons are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, the San Fernando Valley, El Segundo, the South Bay, LAX, Calabasas, Agoura Hiils. Westlake Village, Valencia, Santa Clarita and Santa Barbara.

  • Dr Hamed Jafary DPM

    Dr. Hamed Jafary is a Board-Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine (ABPM). He  specializes in trauma, reconstructive surgery, Charcot reconstruction, Ilizarov external fixation, and sports medicine. He is also a member of the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Medicine.


    When not tending to patients at University Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Jafary utilizes his surgical expertise assisting those less fortunate. As a member of the Yucatan Crippled Children Foundation, he has traveled to Mexico several times and performed hundreds of limb correction surgeries on children with disabling foot and ankle disorders.

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