Painful plantar warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) which chooses to live in your foot after entering through cracks on the calluses on the sole and ball of your foot. HPV is found wherever people congregate, so it can be easily acquired by using public showers, pool areas, and locker rooms. Keeping your feet protected with sandals or shower shoes in these areas can help minimize your contact with this virus and other pathogens such as the fungi that cause fungal toenail infections.
Plantar warts will sometimes improve with home treatments, but when a wart grows underneath the skin, often on the heel or ball of the foot, the pressure causes the wart to grow inward beneath the thick skin, causing pain and discomfort whenever you put weight on it. Plantar warts can be very painful and difficult to treat on your own, so it is best to see your foot doctor for safe and complete removal.
Signs and symptoms of plantar warts
- Hidden source of pain and discomfort—a painful bump, located under the thick skin usually on the ball or heel of the foot may be a hidden plantar wart.
- Rough bumps— Visible plantar warts will usually have little black center points that are actually clotted capillaries.
Treatment of plantar warts
Conservative treatments include the following:
- Insulating pads—Moleskin pads isolate and make it easier to walk on an embedded wart.
- Warm water foot soaks and acid—Soaking your foot in a warm, soapy bath and then applying salicylic acid is often effective at removing the wart in layers.
- Abrasion—Sanding and filing with a pumice stone or file will help to remove dead skin tissue. This can be combined with acid therapy.
If you do not see improvement in one to two weeks with home care treatments, you should see your foot care professional and try other treatments such as liquid nitrogen, cauterization, or laser surgery. At Your Next Step, board-certified podiatrists Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen use advanced technologies and their expertise to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems. They provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the greater Philadelphia area at our offices conveniently located in Ardmore, Paoli, and Downingtown, PA. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.