For adults and especially children, plantar warts are very common. These noncancerous skin growths are found on the bottom of the foot and are caused by a virus. There are numerous strains of the virus. Usually it affects the top layer of skin. These warts are not harmful but they can cause irritation or discomfort. Patients typically want to get rid of them because they are unsightly and can make them feel uncomfortable showing their feet. Plantar warts are typically small, about the size of an eraser on a pencil. They can grow larger and in clusters known as mosaic warts.
Warts can pass from person to person. However, the transmission is usually indirect. For example, a person with a wart can touch a surface, such as a communal shower, and then another person can enter and touch the same surface, thus spreading the virus. The risk is small however. Those with a suppressed immune system are more vulnerable to getting warts.
Warts can heal on their own. However, if it does not disappear or is very bothersome there are numerous treatments available. Over-the-counter treatments have about a 50-50 chance of being effective. They will take some time to work and usually peel at the wart in an attempt to kill the virus. Doctor’s wart treatments include liquid nitrogen applications to freeze it, laser or surgery to remove it, and injecting or applying medication to rid the person of the virus by strengthening the immune system. Treatment typically needs time to be effective, regardless of the form and because most of the wart lies underneath the skin’s surface it can be challenging to treat plantar warts. Warts can return if exposed to the virus again or if it wasn’t killed during the first treatment. Doctor’s treatments are usually successful.