Plantar warts, or verruca plantaris, grow on the sole of the foot. They can be painful but are easily treated at Essex Union Podiatry.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts (technically known as verruca plantaris) grow on the sole, referred to as the plantar portion of the foot. These hard, fleshy or grainy growths can be on any portion of that area, on one or both feet, and can be tender and painful, particularly where there is pressure and friction.

Although plantar warts are benign (noncancerous), over time they can grow deep into the skin. Children, adolescents and the elderly are the most commonly affected age groups. The condition spreads easily by contact with a contaminated surface or skin-to-skin contact.

There are two different types of plantar warts:

  • Solitary wart: This is a single wart which often grows larger and may eventually form additional warts.
  • Mosaic wart: This is several small warts in a cluster and is more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Plantar Warts?

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over 100 types of HPV, each of which infects specific areas of the body, such as the sole of the foot. The HPV infects the superficial layer of the skin by entering the body through a weak spot, break or cut in the skin. This results in the thick callus-like growth, which may take weeks or months to develop.

Risk factors include:

  • Being barefoot in public showers or swimming pool areas
  • Feet that sweat heavily or are exposed regularly to damp surfaces
  • Sharing towels, socks or shoes
  • Trauma to the skin
  • Immune system weakness caused by illness or certain medications
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Warts?

The signs and symptoms of plantar warts include:

  • Small, bumpy or cauliflower-type growths on the soles of the feet with tiny black dots
  • Hard, thickened, callus-like skin over a specific spot
  • Pain when standing or walking
  • Pain when warts are squeezed or pinched
  • Wart seeds, which are small, clotted blood vessels that look like black dots

Unlike other warts, plantar warts are flat rather than raised because they are covered by the top layer of the tough skin of the sole of the foot.

How Are Plantar Warts Diagnosed?

An experienced podiatrist can examine the foot and the appearance of the skin growth. The doctor may also check for the telltale black dots by trimming the growth. Rarely, to rule out a more serious condition, a doctor may send a sample of the growth to a lab for a biopsy.

How Are Plantar Warts Treated?

In many cases, plantar warts can disappear on their own over time. However, that may take as long as six months to two years. Also, these warts can cause discomfort and pain, and they may grow and spread. Therefore, treatment is often preferable. In addition, people are cautioned not to attempt to remove warts themselves, as this can cause infection, disability and other serious problems.

Treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter remedies?larger warts tend not to respond to this treatment
  • Prescription-strength salicylic acid, which gradually removes skin layers
  • Monochloroacetic acid (MCA), which destroys warts and is an effective, comfortable alternative to cryotherapy and salicylic acid
  • Cryotherapy?using liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the plantar wart tissue?may require several treatments.
  • Cryotherapy combined with salicylic acid treatment
  • Curettage?removal of the wart(s) with the use of a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument)


The best course of action is to prevent plantar warts in the first place. Here are some prevention best practices:

  • Wear footwear in communal areas, such as locker rooms and swimming pools
  • Do not share shoes, socks or towels
  • Wash feet and hands often
  • Keep feet dry and change socks often
  • Consider the HPV vaccine, which is usually given at a young age and may reduce the risk of developing plantar warts
  • If you already have a plantar wart, do not scratch, pick or even touch it as that may cause it to spread

Always see a doctor if you are not sure it is a plantar wart, or if the wart is bleeding, changing in appearance or texture, impacting walking or getting worse despite treatment. This is especially important for those with a weakened immune system or diabetes. A plantar wart in diabetics can lead to a foot infection or neuropathy (numbness and pain involving the nerves).

EUP: Specialists in the Treatment of Plantar Warts

Essex Union Podiatry (EUP) is a complete foot and ankle practice serving the podiatric needs of Essex and Union counties. Our specialty-trained physicians utilize the latest techniques and tools to diagnose and treat conditions such as plantar warts and provide preventive care for all foot and ankle conditions. We emphasize patient education and provide personalized care with a treatment plan tailored to meet individual needs.

For more information or to?schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists,?contact us?today.

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      Meet Our Doctors

      The physicians of Essex Union Podiatry are experienced and dedicated professionals trained in various subspecialties of podiatry care. Click on the pictures below to learn more about our doctors.

      Jason P. Galante, DPM,

      Jason Galante, DPM, AASPS

      Nancy A. Kaplan, DPM, MBA, AACHE, FACFAS


      Sarah E. Haller, DPM, AACFAS