Plantar Warts (Verrucae)
Plantar warts are small, rough, round growths that are medically known as verrucae and present on the bottom of the foot. They’re caused by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the outer skin layer and are often contracted in childhood. Once you’ve contracted the virus, you’ll always have it in your system, so plantar warts may pop up spontaneously throughout your lifetime.
The HPV virus is spread through direct contact. If you have a break in the skin, like a small cut or graze, then you may contract the virus through sharing the same surface like a shower or a floor. Immune systems do respond differently and not everyone that comes in contact with the virus will develop plantar warts. Similarly, a weakened immune system may make you more susceptible. Because the virus thrives in warm, moist environments, it is often contracted in changing rooms, at public swimming pools and at gyms.
Plantar warts are relatively small and often have a rounded but rough-edged appearance. Other signs include:
The presentation of plantar warts and corns can often be relatively similar, especially where it is covered by callus. Corns also appear on the bottom of the foot and are small, circular and painful, especially on walking. Unlike warts, corns are caused by the body’s response to pressure and have no blood supply. Corns also don’t tend to bleed, whereas verrucae do. Corns are not contagious, and will not return if the cause of the pressure is removed. Corns are also more painful when pushing down on them, whereas verrucae illicit more pain when squeezed from the sides.
Because plantar warts are a virus, they can be difficult to treat and can recur spontaneously. Your podiatrist will be able to advise you on the best treatment option for you based on your symptoms and medical history. Treatments can include:
We recommend against using at-home pads for warts because the acid typically used is not localised to the exact location of the wart and you risk damaging the healthy skin surrounding the wart. If you have a plantar wart: