Medical Treatment for Plantar Warts

A plantar wart is a wart that occurs on the sole of the foot, most often on the heels or balls of your feet as those areas feel the most pressure while standing or walking. It is because of this pressure that plantar warts are often flat or grow inward.

Medical Treatment for Plantar Warts (

Medical Treatment for Plantar Warts (

These warts are an infection of the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus enters the body through a break in the skin (such as a cut) and then forms a rough bump on the surface of the skin. Warts are benign (non-cancerous) growths.

Each person’s immune system responds differently to HPV and not everyone who comes in contact with it develops warts. Plantar warts are more common among children because they frequently have scrapes and cuts. Additionally, the risk of getting warts increases as you get older and your immune system weakens.

Plantar warts are very contagious and can easily be transmitted from one person to another by coming into direct contact with a wart or a surface that has been in contact with a wart.

Most plantar warts aren’t a serious health concern and may not require treatment. They can, however, cause discomfort or pain. If self-care treatments for plantar warts don’t work, you may want to see your doctor to have them removed.


Plantar warts are caused by an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the outer layer of skin on the soles of your feet. More than 100 types of HPV exist, but only a few cause warts on your feet.

The HPV strains that cause plantar warts aren’t highly contagious. So the virus isn’t easily transmitted by direct contact from one person to another. But it thrives in warm, moist environments.

Typically, the plantar wart virus is acquired in public places where people go barefoot, such as locker rooms or swimming pools.


A plantar wart often resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue. However, unlike calluses, a plantar wart is painful when squeezed. A plantar wart may also have black dots on its surface. These dots are from the dilated blood vessels in the wart.


Plantar warts often go away on their own after a certain amount of time. However, since these warts are frequently painful, the patient may want to have them treated right away. In order to successfully treat a plantar wart and reduce the chances of it coming back, it must be removed completely.

Medical treatment options include:

  • Cantharidin: The most common topical for plantar warts is cantharidin. It is often used in combination with salicylic acid. The doctor applies the liquid combination of cantharidin and salicylic acid directly to the wart and then covers it with a bandage. Within a week after treatment, a blister forms under the wart. When the blister peels off, all or part of the wart peels off, as well.
  • Freezing: This treatment destroys the wart by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. This treatment may require several sessions in order to be effective.
  • Chemical peel: Chemical peels strip away layers of the wart. However, when the doctor chooses a chemical peel as a treatment, he or she will prescribe a more powerful concentration of a medication such as salicylic acid for you to apply at home.
  • Other: Other options to treat plantar warts include laser therapy, surgery, and immunotherapy, an approach in which the doctor uses the patient’s immune system to destroy a plantar wart that is not responding to other treatments.

Whatever you do, do not try to cut off a plantar wart yourself because you may injure yourself and cuts in your skin allow the warts to spread.

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The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


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