Synergy Health Partners

Plantar Warts

Definition: Plantar warts are noncancerous growths that develop on the soles of the feet due to a viral infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These warts typically appear on weight-bearing areas such as the heels or balls of the feet and can cause discomfort or pain when walking.


  • Infection with HPV, which enters the skin through tiny cuts or abrasions
  • Walking barefoot in public places, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and communal showers
  • Direct contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces


  • Small, rough, and grainy growths on the soles of the feet
  • Hard, thickened skin over a well-defined spot (often mistaken for a callus)
  • Black pinpoints (small clotted blood vessels) within the wart
  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing
  • Clustering of multiple warts (mosaic warts)


  • Physical Examination: Visual inspection of the growths by a healthcare provider.
  • Shaving the Lesion: Paring down the growth to check for the presence of clotted blood vessels.
  • Biopsy: Rarely, a small sample of the growth may be taken for laboratory analysis.


  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Salicylic acid treatments to gradually peel away the wart.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, causing it to fall off over time.
  • Cantharidin: Applying a chemical that causes a blister to form under the wart, lifting it off the skin.
  • Immunotherapy: Using medications to stimulate the immune system to fight off the virus.
  • Laser Therapy: Using laser treatment to destroy the wart tissue.
  • Minor Surgery: Cutting away the wart, usually under local anesthesia.
  • Duct Tape: Applying duct tape to the wart for several days, then soaking and scraping it, repeated over several weeks.

Prognosis: Plantar warts often resolve on their own, but this can take several months to years. Treatment can accelerate the healing process and relieve discomfort, though recurrence is possible. Good foot hygiene, avoiding direct contact with warts, and wearing protective footwear in communal areas can help prevent the spread and recurrence of plantar warts.