Warts occurring on the bottom of the foot are commonly called plantar warts. They are caused by the human papillomavirus, a viral infection of the skin that can appear anywhere on the body. Areas of the body that are subject to friction are more prone to developing warts as is the case with feet. Up to ten percent of all adults experience a plantar wart in his or her lifetime. While vaccines exist to prevent some types of HPV infections, it is not the case with plantar warts.
Plantar warts occur most commonly in teenagers, primarily caused by exposure to public showers where contact with the virus is more likely. Trauma to the skin and having a weak immune systems also make the foot susceptible.
Warts appear as raised, hardened areas of the skin, often on the ball of the foot or on a bony section of the skin. The skin appears thick and sometimes white. Depending on the location of the wart, it can sometimes be painful and require removal. Some can appear bumpy or scaly than others. Occasionally, there will be a pinpoint red spot in the center.
Warts can develop over long periods of time, varying by the type of virus that infections the area. There are hundreds of HPV viruses, some more prone to affect the foot.
Plantar warts are contagious and can be passed to other people if someone comes in contact with a surface exposed to a plantar wart. They can also spread to other areas of the body of the same person.
Don’t attempt to cut a wart off yourself as it can result in a great deal of bleeding. Home remedies are available but do not always work. These consist of topical treatments containing salicylic acid, such as Compound W, and freezing. Topical remedies may not dissolve the wart entirely.
To temporarily alleviate a painful wart, a doughnut shaped pad can be applied to the wart. These are available over-the-counter at any drugstore. This will help reduce friction to the area.
Consult with a physician if the plantar wart causes pain, difficulty walking, swelling occurs or if there is excessive bleeding. Your physician may choose to burn, cut or freeze the wart off. Anyone with diabetes should avoid self-treatment as foot infections can become much more serious for these patients. Burning of warts is performed with an acid. More recent treatments involve removal by laser.
To prevent contracting warts, it is recommended to always wear footwear in a public area. Flip flops can be worn in a public shower, such as a gym or beach. Change socks daily and keep feet clean to reduce chance of infection. Avoid touching other people’s warts. Avoid sharing any type of footwear or socks with other people.