What is a plantar Wart?
A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly.
- A solitary wart is a single wart - It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional "satellite" warts.
- Mosaic warts - Are a cluster of several small warts growing closely together in one area. Mosaic warts are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
Plantar warts are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body.
The symptoms of a plantar wart may include:
- Thickened skin - Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue.
- Pain - Walking and standing may be painful. Squeezing the sides of the wart may also cause pain.
- Tiny black dots - These often appear on the surface of the wart. The dots are actually dried blood contained in the capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
Plantar warts grow deep into the skin. Usually this growth occurs slowly, with the wart starting small and becoming larger over time. Warts do not grow deeper than the skin but they do spread and multiply. They are contagious to others.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose a plantar wart, the foot and ankle surgeon will examine the patient's foot and look for signs and symptoms of a wart.
Although some plantar warts eventually clear up on their own, it can take months or years, and patients usually desire faster relief. The goal of treatment is to completely remove the wart so it cannot spread on the patient's own skin, or to others.
The foot and ankle surgeon may use topical or oral treatments, cryotherapy (freezing), acid treatments, or surgery to remove the wart. Keep in mind that the site needs to be monitored after treatment to make sure the wart does not recur.