Plantar wart

Plantar wart
Plantar wart
Classification and external resources

A plantar wart. Striae (fingerprints) go around the lesion.
ICD-10 B07
ICD-9 078.12

A plantar wart (also known as "Verruca plantaris"[1]:405) is a wart caused by the human papillomavirus occurring on the sole or toes of the foot. (HPV infections in other locations are not plantar; see human papillomavirus.) Plantar warts are usually self-limiting, but treatment is generally recommended to lessen symptoms (which may include pain), decrease duration, and reduce transmission.[2]



Mosaic warts cluster
Young plantar warts

It is estimated that 7–10% of the US population is infected. Infection typically occurs from moist walking surfaces such as showers or swimming pools. The virus can survive many months without a host, making it highly contagious.[2][3]

Plantar warts are benign epithelial tumors caused by infection by human papilloma virus types 1, 2, 4, or 63[3]. These types are classified as clinical (visible symptoms). The virus attacks the skin through direct contact, entering through possibly tiny cuts and abrasions in the stratum corneum (outermost layer of skin). After infection, warts may not become visible for several weeks or months. Because of pressure on the sole of the foot or finger, the wart is pushed inward and a layer of hard skin may form over the wart. A plantar wart can be painful if left untreated.[2][4]

Warts may spread through autoinoculation, by infecting nearby skin or by infecting walking surfaces. They may fuse or develop into clusters called mosaic warts.[3]


A plantar wart is a small lesion that appears on the sole of the foot and typically resembles a cauliflower, with tiny black petechiae (tiny hemorrhages under the skin) in the center. Pinpoint bleeding may occur when these are scratched, and they may be painful when standing or walking.

Plantar warts are often similar to calluses or corns, but can be differentiated by close observation of skin striations. Feet are covered in skin striae, which are akin to fingerprints on the feet. Skin striae go around plantar warts; if the lesion is not a plantar wart, the cells' DNA is not altered and the striations continue across the top layer of the skin. Plantar warts tend to be painful on application of pressure from either side of the lesion rather than direct pressure, unlike calluses (which tend to be painful on direct pressure instead).


Because plantar warts are spread by contact with moist walking surfaces, they can be prevented by not walking barefoot in public areas such as showers or communal changing rooms (wearing flip flops or sandals helps), not sharing shoes and socks, and avoiding direct contact with warts on other parts of the body or on other people. Humans build immunity with age, so infection is less common among adults than children.[4]

As warts are contagious, precautions should be taken to avoid spreading them. The British National Health Service recommends that children with warts:


First-line therapy Over the counter salicylic acid
Second-line therapy Cryosurgery, intralesional immunotherapy, or pulsed dye laser therapy
Third-line therapy Bleomycin, surgical excision

Once a person is infected, there is no evidence that any treatment eliminates HPV infection or decreases infectivity, and warts may recur after treatment because of activation of latent virus present in healthy skin adjacent to the lesion. There is currently no vaccine for these types of the virus[dubious ][citation needed]. However, treatments are sometimes effective at addressing symptoms and causing remission (inactivity) of the virus.[3]

Some treatments that have been found to be effective include:[6]


Keratolytic chemicals The treatment of warts by keratolysis involves the peeling away of dead surface skin cells with trichloroacetic acid or salicylic acid, which can be prescribed by a physician in a higher concentration than that found in over-the-counter products.

Immunotherapy Intralesional injection of antigens (mumps, candida or trichophytin antigens USP) is a new wart treatment which may trigger a host immune response to the wart virus, resulting in wart resolution. Distant, non-injected warts may also disappear.

Chemotherapy Topical application of dilute glutaraldehyde (a virucidal chemical, used for cold sterilization of surgical instruments) is an older effective wart treatment. More modern chemotherapy agents, like 5-fluoro-uracil, are also effective topically or injected intralesionally. Retinoids, systemically (e.g. isotretinoin) or topically (tretinoin cream) may be effective.


A ~7mm plantar wart surgically removed from patient's footsole after other treatments failed.

A common surgical method involves cryosurgery using liquid nitrogen; this method produces a blister under the wart. Electrodesiccation and surgical excision produce scarring. If the wart recurs, the patient has a permanent scar along with the wart. Laser surgery may be effective. Especially effective is the use of the 585 nm pulsed dye laser. It is the most effective treatment of all and does not leave scars, but it is generally a last resort treatment, as it is expensive and painful, and multiple laser treatments are required (generally 4-6 treatments repeated once a month until the wart disappears). Cauterization may be effective as a prolonged treatment. As a short-term treatment, cauterization of the base with anaesthetic can be effective, but this method risks scars or keloids. Subsequent surgical removal is unnecessary, and risks keloids and recurrence in the operative scar.[7]


Suffocation of the surrounding skin with plastic is anecdotally effective, akin to the "duct tape" method. A layer of plastic wrap is cut slightly larger than the surface area of the wart(s), and then affixed firmly with a bandage. Care must be taken to ensure the skin does not breathe for long periods between fresh dressings, and effective results should be noticeable within 2 weeks, or else be discontinued. Despite the excess moisture of sweat, the lack of oxygen speeds the degeneration of the wart and surrounding skin; especially in combination with other treatments that gradually expose the root, such as salicylic acid.

Relative effectiveness

A 2006 review of the effects of different local treatments for cutaneous, non-genital warts in healthy people concluded: [8]

  • overall there is a lack of evidence (many trials were excluded because of poor methodology and reporting).
  • the average cure rate using a placebo was 27% after an average period of 15 weeks.
  • the best treatments are those containing salicylic acid. They are clearly better than placebo.
  • there is little clinical trial data for the absolute efficacy of cryotherapy
  • two trials comparing salicylic acid and cryotherapy showed no significant difference in efficacy.
  • one trial comparing cryotherapy and duct tape occlusion therapy showed no significant difference in efficacy.
  • evidence for the efficacy of the remaining treatments was limited.


  1. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. 
  2. ^ a b c Warts, Plantar at eMedicine
  3. ^ a b c d Human Papillomavirus at eMedicine
  4. ^ a b "Understanding Plantar Warts". Health Plan of New York. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  5. ^ "Clinical Knowledge Summaries: Previous version – Warts (including verrucas)" (PDF). National Health Service. January 2007. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  6. ^ Bacelieri R, Johnson SM (August 2005). "Cutaneous warts: an evidence-based approach to therapy". Am Fam Physician 72 (4): 647–52. PMID 16127954. 
  7. ^ Kunnamo, Ilkka (2005). Evidence-based Medicine Guidelines. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 422. ISBN 9780470011843. 
  8. ^ Gibbs S, Harvey I, Sterling JC, Stark R (2006). Gibbs, Sam. ed. "Local treatments for cutaneous warts". Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3 (2): CD001781. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001781.pub2. PMID 16855978. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • plantar wart — n a wart on the sole of the foot called also verruca plantaris * * * a wart occurring on the sole of the foot. * * * a painful wart on the sole, usually transmitted by a human papillomavirus. Called also verruca plantaris …   Medical dictionary

  • plantar wart — UK [ˈplæntə(r) wɔː(r)t] / US [ˈplæntər wɔrt] noun [countable] Word forms plantar wart : singular plantar wart plural plantar warts medical a verruca …   English dictionary

  • plantar wart — /ˈplæntə wɔt/ (say plantuh wawt) noun a wart occurring on the sole of the foot, caused by the human papillomavirus. {plantar + wart} …  

  • plantar wart — noun a wart occurring on the sole of the foot pressure causes plantar warts to develop a painful callus around the soft center • Hypernyms: ↑wart, ↑verruca …   Useful english dictionary

  • plantar wart — plan|tar wart [ plæntər wɔrt ] noun count MEDICAL a small mass of hard flesh on the bottom of your foot …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • plantar wart — verruca …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Wart — For the Nintendo character, see Wart (Nintendo). For toad warts, see parotoid gland. Warts Classification and external resources Warts on the big toe ICD 10 B …   Wikipedia

  • Wart — A local growth of the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) caused by a virus. The virus of warts (a papillomavirus) is transmitted by contact. The contact can be with a wart on someone else or one on oneself (autoinoculation). Warts that occur …   Medical dictionary

  • wart — warted, adj. wartless, adj. /wawrt/, n. 1. a small, often hard, abnormal elevation on the skin, usually caused by a papomavirus. 2. any small protuberance, as on the surface of certain plants, the skin of certain animals, etc. 3. any unattractive …   Universalium

  • Plantar — Having to do with the sole of the foot. The plantar response (also known as the Babinski reflex) is elicited by stroking the sole. The plantar fascia is the "bowstring like" tissue stretching from the heel beneath the sole. A plantar… …   Medical dictionary

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