Understanding Plantar Warts: Causes, Symptoms, and Transmission

Are you worried about that small hard growth in the bottom of your foot? If yes, there’s a chance it’s a plantar wart. These are noncancerous growths caused when HPV enters the feet through any cuts, breaks, or weak spots in the foot. The wart goes away on its own in 2 years. Some people want quick relief from the pain or swelling it causes. Learn about plantar wart causes, symptoms, and treatment options in this article. Log on to www.doralhw.org for a consultation.



Plantar warts are caused by a viral infection called HPV which affects the outer layer of skin on the soles of the feet. It occurs when the HPV enters through tiny cuts, breaks, or weak spots on the bottom of the foot. If left untreated, it can last a few months to 2 years in children and several years in adults.

HPV is a common viral infection with more than 100 virus forms. However, only a few of them cause warts on the feet. Other types of HPV can cause warts on different areas of your skin or mucous membranes.

Not everyone who comes in contact with HPV develops warts depending on the immune system’s response to the virus. Even people with the same family will react to the virus differently.

The HPV strains that cause plantar warts aren’t highly contagious because they do not spread easily from direct contact with one person to another. However, it thrives in warm, moist places, where you can get exposed to the virus when you walk barefoot around swimming pools or locker rooms. If the virus spreads to the site of infection, more warts may grow.

Anyone can get plantar warts, but some people are more prone to this type of foot warts, including:

  • Children and teenagers.
  • People with weak immune systems.
  • People who developed plantar warts before.
  • People who walk barefoot in areas where a wart-causing virus can commonly be found like locker rooms and swimming pools.



Plantar warts can cause many signs and symptoms including:

  • A small, hard, rough growth on the bottom of the foot which appears like cauliflower, generally at the base, around or between the toes, or on the ball or heel.
  • On brown and black skin, it appears lighter than unaffected skin. It can appear dark pink, yellow, brown, purple, or gray.
  • Hard, thickened skin appears as a spot on the skin indicating the wart has grown inward.
  • Black pinpoints on the warts mean small, clotted blood vessels commonly called wart seeds.
  • If many warts grow together in a large cluster, then it’s called mosaic wart.
  • Pain or tenderness when you walk or stand.
  • Bleeding



To diagnose plantar warts, your doctor needs to examine your warts which is difficult because they appear similar to corns and calluses on the feet, which happen on outer layers of skin to protect areas of the skin from friction and pressure.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam to confirm if the growth is a plantar wart or not. If it is a plantar wart, then how much has it grown under the skin? In some cases, the doctor may take a skin sample of the wart and send it to the laboratory for testing. This procedure is called a biopsy, and you get the results in a few days.



Warts often go away on their own without treatment when your immune system fights off the virus. However, it may take a year or two in children and even longer in adults to go away. If they don’t go away on their own or a person wants to remove them earlier due to pain and the feeling of them getting spread, you can seek medical help. Your doctor may recommend several treatment options, including:

  1. Cryotherapy:

This is a clinical procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart and destroy it. In this procedure, the doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the wart, with a spray or a cotton swab. As it can be painful, your doctor may numb the area first. Then freezing causes a blister to form around the wart, and dead tissue falls off within a week or so. This therapy may stimulate your immune system to fight viral warts and you need to repeat this treatment every 2 to 3 weeks to ensure the wart disappears. You can expect side effects like pain, blisters, or permanent changes in skin color, especially in brown or black skin people.

  1. Immunotherapy:

If warts don’t respond to other treatments, immunotherapy can be used to stimulate your immune system to fight off the HPV virus that is responsible for their development. Your doctor may inject your warts with a foreign substance/antigen or apply a solution or cream to the warts which causes an allergic response that makes your immune system attack the wart.

  1. Laser therapy:

This treatment involves the use of a beam of high-intensity light to heat the tiny blood vessels in your wart to destroy them. It cuts off the wart’s blood supply to kill the warts which makes it remarkably effective, however, it may leave scarring sometimes.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the pulsed dye laser method is 60 to 75% effective in removing warts that are difficult to treat, however, multiple treatments may be necessary. This treatment should be taken by a certified dermatologist or doctor.

  1. Electrocautery:

In this treatment, doctors use electricity to burn off the warts.

  1. Topical medicine:

Your doctor may prescribe salicylic acid topical medicine to remove your wart layer by layer over a few weeks by triggering an immune response that fights the wart. Your doctor may also prescribe cantharidin which makes a blister under the plantar wart to cut off the blood supply and the doctor will remove the dead plantar wart after a week.

  1. Vaccine:

HPV vaccine can be used to successfully treat warts even when it’s not designed for wart treatment.

  1. Surgery:

Surgery is used when all other treatment options have failed. For surgical procedures, the doctor first numbs the area with a local anesthetic. Then, they will use a sharp surgical knife (scalpel) to cut the surrounding area of the wart and use a small scoop (curette) to take it out or tweezers to pull it out.



Most treatments for plantar warts take several weeks for complete recovery. Keep in mind, treat your wart with consistency because eliminating plantar warts permanently is difficult as they tend to return, so make sure you follow your treatment plan carefully.

Cryotherapy usually requires 2 to 3 trips to the doctor for liquid nitrogen therapy. Laser therapy also needs 1 to 3 treatment trips. If your wart is cut off by the doctor, then keep your foot away from the floor, covered with a bandage, and don’t put pressure on the wart site to avoid side effects.


Plantar warts often occur in people who work or use places like swimming pools and locker rooms. While it often goes away on its own in 2 years. But for faster relief from plantar warts symptoms, you seek medical treatment for wart removal. Keep in mind that warts can recur, so you need to follow your treatment plan carefully.


Need help with plantar warts, visit our podiatry clinic in Brooklyn to get professional medical help. Call us to book your appointment now!!!

Doral Health & Wellness employs Podiatrists with extensive education and expertise. Trauma to the tendons, muscles, and bones of the foot is quite common, as are infections secondary to systemic diseases. It’s not a promising idea to put off seeing Foot Doctor Brooklyn until you’re in a lot of pain. Our address is 1797 Pitkin Avenue, New York, NY 11212. To make an appointment, please call +1-347-384-5690 or send an email to info@doralhw.org.