What Causes Plantar Warts and How Can I Get Rid of Them?

Warts are noncancerous growths that develop in the top layer of the skin as a result of an infection from a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV). They’re classified by their location on the body. When on the hands, they’re called palmar warts, and when on the soles of the feet, they’re called plantar warts.

Plantar warts form when HPV penetrates the skin through small cuts in the bottoms of the feet. Your bodyweight pressing on the area can cause the skin to become thick and callused. Plantar warts aren’t harmful by themselves, but they can cause irritation, pain, and minor bleeding.

If your warts cause you pain, they can lead to shifts in the way you stand and walk, which can lead to complications with your body mechanics.

At Quantum Foot and Ankle Group, PC in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, J. Adrian Wright, DPM, MS, and his team routinely see patients with plantar warts. And while they know that warts aren’t inherently harmful, they understand that relieving the discomfort is the best way to ensure your overall foot and ankle health. Here’s what you need to know about warts and their removal.

Virus transmission

The HPV strains that cause plantar warts — which are different from the ones that cause genital warts — aren’t highly contagious and aren’t easily transmitted from person to person. In fact, not everyone who comes in contact with HPV goes on to develop warts.

HPV, though, thrives in warm, moist environments, such as swimming pools and locker rooms. If you walk around barefoot in these areas, you’re more at risk of contracting the virus. And while the virus causes a wart at the point it enters the skin, it can spread from that site to others and cause new warts to appear.

Anyone can develop plantar warts, but they’re more common in:

Symptoms of plantar warts

If you develop a plantar wart, you’ll likely notice:

Treating plantar warts

Many warts will clear up by themselves, usually within a period of two years. However, if you’re experiencing pain or irritation, you may want to have the warts removed.

There are a number of home remedies for wart removal, but it may take months to see results.  You’ll have much more success with a doctor’s treatment, and Dr. Wright offers several in-office treatments that come without pain or complications. These include:

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Therapy

With this treatment, Dr. Wright applies prescription-strength salicylic acid to the wart to dissolve the layers of the lesion. The acid can also trigger your body’s immune system to fight the underlying viral infection. You may require a series of treatments to remove the wart completely.


With this treatment, liquid nitrogen is used to destroy the wart’s structure. Dr. Wright places a handheld device over the wart to deliver the cold substance.

Micro excision

Dr. Wright uses this minimally invasive procedure to gently remove the wart and reduce your risk for developing recurrent plantar warts. His technique focuses on limiting damage to the surrounding healthy skin by using high levels of magnification and thereby minimizing your risk for scarring.

Are your plantar warts irritating the bottoms of your feets or causing you pain? Get help by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Quantum Foot and Ankle Group, PC today.

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