Foot Clinic Milton & Cambridge : What causes a plantar wart and how can it be treated?

A plantar wart, also known as verruca pedis, is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that occurs on the sole of the foot or the toes.  The virus enters the skin through tiny cuts, breaks or other sensitive sites on the skin of your feet.  The spread of warts most likely occurs in areas that are contaminated by others with plantar warts.  This can include communal showers, pool areas, activities that include being barefoot such as gymnastics, martial arts, etc. The destruction of HPV once it enters the skin depends on the development of immune lymphocytes (small white blood cells) that destroy the virus-infected cells.

Plantar warts generally develop underneath pressure points in your feet such as the heel or the balls of your feet.  They can also occur on the toes.  Since the warts develop under pressure points, they may develop a callus (thickened skin) over top.  Plantar warts look like small, fleshy lesions or growths on the bottom of your feet.  Many warts have small black pinpoints, which are small clotted blood vessels.  If the wart is scratched, pinpoint bleeding can occur.  A cluster of warts in one area of the skin is called a mosaic wart.  Plantar warts can become very painful if not treated.  They are most painful when squeezed as opposed to direct pressure because the skin striations go around the plantar warts.  Plantar warts mostly affect children and teenagers and those with weakened immune systems.

There are various treatment options for plantar warts.  Treatment options depend on the individual and how long they have had the warts.  Since plantar warts can be resistant to treatment, it requires multiple visits and patience to ensure that the wart has been successfully treated. Treatment options include freezing (cryotherapy), various topical medication that includes salicylic acid, cantharidin, Immiquimod, silver nitrate, etc. If none of these treatment options work, there is laser treatment available as well as minor surgery, which involves cutting away the wart.

For more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at www.ontariofoot.ca.