Plantar warts are a type of skin growth or condition that occurs on the bottom (also known as the plantar side) of the foot. These growths are considered to be non-cancerous and are caused by viral infections. They most often occur on the ball of the foot or on the heels.
Plantar warts often feel hard or grainy. They may even grow inward causing calluses. They are specifically caused by HPV (the human papillomavirus). HPV has many different forms and the form that causes plantar warts is not the same as the virus that causes genital warts or even warts elsewhere on the body. HPV does not always cause plantar warts and as such, contracting the virus does not necessarily mean that a person will suffer from plantar warts.
Oftentimes, one of the first signs of plantar warts is pain or discomfort while standing or otherwise putting pressure on the foot. It can sometimes feel as though the person has a stone or pebble in their shoe that will not go away. Warts may occur anywhere on the sole of the foot and can occur individually or in large clusters resembling a mosaic. Plantar warts also may have black dots in the center, distinguishing them from other foot ailments.
More often than not, plantar warts will clear up without any treatment. However, when the warts do not clear up or they cause serious pain or discomfort, there are treatment options. A physician can lance off the top of the warts and then apply a medicated dressing. Cryosurgery (freezing off the warts) is also an option for treating plantar warts. Salicylic acid is a chemical treatment option that can remove plantar warts. Laser treatments, other (stronger) chemicals, and other surgeries may also be useful in treating plantar warts. Physicians will often try to us the least invasive procedure possible to resolve the issue.