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Plantar Wart


What is a plantar wart?

A plantar wart is a thick, rough skin growth on the bottom of your foot. Plantar warts are benign (not cancer) and they are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a germ that spreads through direct contact. It usually enters the skin through cuts or scratches on the bottom of your feet. You may get a plantar wart if you touch someone else's wart.

What are the signs and symptoms of a plantar wart?

Plantar warts most commonly form on pressure points, such as the heel or ball of your foot. You may have any of the following:

  • A flat, gray, brown, or flesh-colored growth
  • Black dots in the center of your wart
  • One wart or a cluster of them
  • A small wart that grows in size
  • Pain or tenderness when you walk or stand

How is a plantar wart treated by a healthcare provider?

  • Keratolytic therapy is when acid medicine is used to thin the wart. The medicine causes the outer layer of the skin to loosen and shed. Your healthcare provider may start this therapy in his office and tell you to continue to use the medicine at home.
  • Cryotherapy is when your healthcare provider freezes the wart with a strong liquid nitrogen in his office. The skin on and around your wart may form a red blister. The dead wart tissue then dries up and falls off in a few weeks.
  • Immunotherapy uses medicine to help your immune system kill the HPV. This may make your wart go away. The medicine may be cream or a shot.
  • Laser therapy treatment uses a narrow beam of light to cut away the wart.
  • Surgery to remove the ward may be needed. Your healthcare provider will numb your skin, remove the wart, and use electricity to burn the area to help prevent it from returning.

How can I treat my plantar wart at home?

Use home treatments as directed. Keep your wart and skin clean and dry between treatments.

  • Salicylic acid is an over-the-counter peeling agent that comes as a liquid. Soak your foot in warm water for up to 20 minutes. Apply a small amount of salicylic acid directly to your wart. Avoid getting it on other skin areas, because it may irritate healthy skin. Let it dry, and cover the wart as directed. After several hours, use a pumice stone or nail file to gently remove dead skin. Use 2 times each day for as long as directed.
  • A plaster patch is also available over-the-counter. Cut the patch to the size of your wart. Apply the sticky side to the wart. After 1 to 2 days, peel the patch off and apply a fresh patch.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze your wart. Liquid nitrogen is available over-the-counter but may also be applied at your healthcare provider's office. Liquid nitrogen may cause mild pain for a short time. Use only as directed.
  • Duct tape can help dry and remove the wart. Use as directed. You may be directed to leave the duct tape on for 6 days. On day 7, take the tape off and soak the wart in warm water for 5 minutes. Gently scrape the wart with a pumice stone or nail file. Then apply a new piece of duct tape and follow the same steps until the wart is gone.

How can I prevent another plantar wart?

  • Do not touch your wart, or someone else's wart. If you do touch your wart, wash your hands.
  • Do not walk barefoot in public places. Wear shower shoes or sandals in warm, damp areas such as locker rooms, shower stalls, and swimming pool areas.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry. Use foot powder between your toes and on your feet after you wash and dry them. Change socks often to avoid damp feet. If your shoes are damp from sweat, set them in a place where they can dry out before you wear them again.
  • Do not share or reuse items. Examples include nail files, pumice stones, socks, or towels. Clean these items with hot soapy water before you use them again.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your wart returns or does not go away after treatment.
  • Your wart grows larger or begins to spread or cluster.
  • You have bleeding or increased pain after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.