What Are Plantar Warts and How Are They Recognized?

Plantar warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (also known as HPV) invading the top layer of your skin and usually appear on the heels or other weight bearing areas of the feet. Because they are subject to pressure due to their location, plantar warts appear rather flat and don’t stick up like warts located on other areas of the body.

Even though these warts are non-cancerous and usually go away on their own in a couple of years, most people don’t want to wait that long and start looking for an effective plantar wart remedy! Warts are unsightly and plantar warts can develop pressure points and become painful and irritated if they are located on a part of the foot that directly bears weight.

The HPV virus that causes warts comes in several strains and is not the same virus that causes genital herpes in humans. But this wart causing virus, like it’s herpes causing cousin, is contagious, but not highly so. The virus gains access by entering the body through small cuts, scrapes, or breaks on the skin of your feet. You don’t have to come into direct contact with the wart to become infected, as you can pick up the virus indirectly from another person by using a public swimming pool shower without using shower shoes for example.

Plantar warts are very common with more than 3 million cases a year just in the United States. People with lowered immunity are more susceptible to getting warts but perfectly healthy people can get them as well. Almost everyone, at some point in their lives, will have a wart of some kind. But here’s the good news: plantar warts can be self diagnosed and self treated. Some people mistake a callus or corn on the bottom of their feet for a wart. A callus is simply thickened skin that develops on the bottom of the foot due to pressure. A callus on the toes is known as a corn. They can be painful, but they are not always so.

So how do you tell the difference? While you may not always be able to tell the difference here are some clues. Calluses have skin lines or ridges going through them and warts do not. Also, warts frequently are covered with tiny black dots in the center. Some people mistakenly think these small black dots are ‘seeds’…they are not. The black dots are tiny blood vessels that have grown into the wart. Warts tend to get larger and spread and calluses do not.