Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are as stubborn a problem today as they have always been. There are many treatments available for warts. An old axiom of medicine is that when there are many treatments for the same problem, none of them works uniformly for everyone.

Warts are caused by a virus that is able to infect the top or outermost (epidermal) layer of the skin. The virus gains access through small cracks and cuts in the skin. A virus is smaller than a bacterium (germ) and can only be seen on an electron microscope. There are many varieties of Human Papilloma Virus or wart virus known to science. Many are able to infect the bottom of the foot. Viruses are contagious. They can spread to other areas of the foot or to other people who are exposed to it.

The proper name for a wart is a verruca. The bottom of the foot is called the plantar surface of the foot. Therefore, a plantar verruca or plantar wart is simply a wart on the bottom of the foot. Plantar warts typically grow inward rather than outward, as they are prone to do on the hand or the fingers. This can be due to the pressure of walking or the variety of wart viruses that can infect the bottom of the foot.

Wart tissue is harder than the surrounding skin and therefore feels like you are walking on a pebble or a BB and the area becomes painful. This may cause a person to want to scratch or pick at the wart. . Scratching or picking at a wart is not a good idea. Scratching may drag the virus along the skin and implant it to other areas and picking may actually spread the wart to the fingernail area.

Wart patients who share a common shower with other family members should use shower thongs and avoid going barefoot in the home until the virus is cleared. The shower should also be lightly misted with Lysol insert the registered trademark symbol here) to kill any remaining wart virus.


All wart treatments are destructive to some extent. No oral medication has been effective in treating warts.

Common available treatments aimed at destroying the virus cells and the wart include:
40% Salicylic acid to burn from the outside in.
Liquid nitrogen to freeze and cause disruption of the cell membrane of the virus
Bleomycin, an injectable
CO2 and Pulsed dye lasers,
Other topical medications.

Surgery can also be performed when needed. This involves local anesthesia and scooping the wart tissue from the skin after an electric needle, or a CO2 laser has burned the area. This surgery is often performed in the office for solitary warts. More widespread warts are done at the hospital as an outpatient.

Since the more aggressive treatments can occasionally cause scaring on the bottom of the foot, the less destructive and slower treatments are often tried first. It is important to approach wart treatment with the knowledge that complete treatment can at times require months of treatments.

Avon Podiatry
Avon Station Medical Center
8244 E. US Highway 36, suite 120
Avon, Indiana 46123



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