Plantar Warts

Warts are actually the most common skin infection that is caused by a virus. Sometimes mistakenly called “Planters Warts”, they appear on the plantar, or under surface of the foot, hence their name. They are typically found in areas of high pressure such as the ball of the foot and the heel. The pressure they receive from these areas can cause these warts to grow into deeper layers of tissue.

Warts will generally go away with time, but plantar warts need to be treated to alleviate symptoms, lessen duration of symptoms, and reduce probability of transmitting it to others. Due to the incubation period of plantar warts being 1-20 months, it is very difficult to know with any certainty when the virus was contracted.

Plantar warts can be painful, especially when walking. It is possible for the virus or the affected area to spread to other areas of the body. However, they do not usually affect areas that are a different type of skin. For instance, plantar warts will not spread to the genitals.

Picture of Plantar Warts

colorado foot institute plantar warts

Symptoms of Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are small lesions that appear underneath the foot and generally resemble a cauliflower, with little black petechiae (little hemorrhages beneath the skin) in the middle of it. It is possible for pinpoint bleeding to occur if the area is scratched, and they can be painful when standing or walking.

Plantar warts may appear similar to corns or calluses, but can be easily differentiated by observing skin striations. Just like the fingers have finger prints, feet are covered in similar little lines called skin striae. Skin striae will bypass plantar warts; if the affected area is not actually a plantar wart, the DNA within the cells are not alerted and the skin striae continue normally across the surface of the skin. Plantar warts are generally more painful when pressure is applied to either side of the wart, unlike calluses and corns which are most painful when direct pressure is applied to the center.

Causes of Plantar Warts

An estimated 7-10 percent of the United States population is infected. People are typically infected from walking on high traffic moist surfaces such as swimming pools or showers. The virus is able to survive many months without the presence of a host, making it incredibly contageous.

A plantar wart is a benign epithelial tumor that is caused by infection from the HPV virus types 63, 1, 2, or 4. These types are considered to be clinical; they have visible symptoms. The virus assaults the skin via direct contact, and can enter through tiny cuts and abrasions in the outermost layer of the skin known as the stratum corneum. After contracting the virus, warts may not appear several weeks or even months. Due to the problem areas under your feet getting so much pressure, it can be easy for the warts to be forced inward. Planter warts can be very painful if they are left untreated.

The virus is able to spread through autoinoculation, infecting walking surfaces or nearby skin. They may develop or fuse into clusters of warts known as mosaic warts.

Prevention of Plantars Warts

Dr. Mechanik recommends the following prevention methods:

  • Whenever possible, avoid walking barefoot
  • Observe your skin regularly and stay knowledgeable of any new growths or changes
  • Keep feet dry and clean.
  • Change socks and shoes daily
  • Avoid direct physical contact with warts on other areas of the body or on other persons.
  • Include an annual visit to the podiatrist as part of your health checkup.

Plantar Wart Treatment

Plantar wart home remedy recipes and over-the-counter treatment may include salicylic acid, apple cider vinegar, duct tape for plantar warts, etc. In reality, applying acid solutions can actually damage surrounding tissues or may even create more warts.  Delayed treatment exposes others around you to warts.  It is ideal that a small skin biopsy be obtained on any lesion that has been present for 4 weeks or more.

Laser treatment is sometimes used to treat large,  long term clusters of plantar warts and typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Cryotherapy is another option for plantar wart removal and this procedure consists of chemically freezing the afflicted area with an extremely cold solution. This method will turn the wart black and cause it to fall off within a matter of days. However, for severe cases, this method may not penetrate deep enough into the problematic area.

Plantar Wart Removal

Surgical excision is the best option for severe cases that are unsuitable for cryotherapy. The surgery is performed in our office using local anesthesia. Excision is a permanent and comprehensive solution, however since the virus that causes plantar warts can live for many months on surfaces, patients must be careful not to reinfect themselves from the same areas where they originally acquired the virus.

We Can Help

Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle Surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions.  He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate Residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and a twenty-four month surgical Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.  He is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery.

With his expertise in foot care, Dr. Mechanik can help you find the best treatment solution to the nagging problem of plantar warts. You can schedule an appointment by calling our office at 303-333-3383.