We know, the term itself sounds disgusting! However, warts are a common soft tissue condition seen in children and teenagers. They are painful lesions on the sole of the foot caused by a virus. Direct pressure from walking causes continuous discomfort and pain.

A wart is often mistaken for a callus, however they are distinctly different. A callus is an overgrowth of dead skin that builds in layers to protect an area of constant irritation. A wart, on the other hand, is a viral infection that replicates in a specific pattern to become painful. It is not uncommon to see a callus form over a wart as a protective measure.



A plantar wart virus resides on dirty surfaces or littered ground. They thrive in moist environments such as swimming pools, locker rooms and bathing facilities. When an individual walks barefooted on dirty surfaces, a virus can be contracted and enter the skin through tiny, invisible cuts on the sole of the foot. The virus replicates within the skin resulting a hard, flat lesion with overlying callus and pinpoint black discoloration in the center. If left untreated, a wart can continue to grow and clump into a cluster of several warts.

Plantar warts are highly susceptible to spreading due to the nature of the virus. Touching, scratching, or direct contacts are the most common causes. Warts also tend to bleed, allowing it to be another means of spreading.


  • Raised lesion with pinpoint black center and overlying callus
  • Pain with direct pressure
  • Sharp or burning pain while weight bearing, relieved with rest
  • Pain with side to side compression
  • Bleeding from lesion site



When dealing with a plantar wart, the most important factor to remember is that a wart can be very resistant to treatment and has a high recurrence rate. Often, multiple treatments are required to completely eliminate the virus.

The most common treatment option includes sharp debridement of the lesion to the healthy virus with application of a freeze probe or acid solution to kill the virus.

Offloading the lesion with orthotics and padding can aid in controlling the pain. Other options including laser treatment and Bleomycin injections are also possible and would be determined by your podiatrist. If conservative options fail, surgical removal of the wart can be indicated.

At home, self-treatments are generally not recommended. Most over the counter products contain harmful chemicals and acids that can harm the skin. This could result to permanent skin changes and increased pain.

There are preventive measures that can be done in order to prevent contraction of the virus and formation of a wart:

  • Walk with shoes on at all times when outdoors
  • Keep feet clean and dry, changing socks daily
  • Avoid direct contact with warts

If you are exhibiting early indication of pain or discomfort, visit your podiatrist at Premier Foot & Ankle for care!


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