Plantar Warts (verruca plantaris), also known as myrmecia, are small, hard, noncancerous skin growths that affect the foot, but typically appear on the heels or balls (plantar side) of the foot. They commonly occur in children, adolescents and the elderly. Plantar warts are caused by a strain of viral infection in the superficial layer of the skin known as human papillomavirus (HPV) – the most common viral infection of the skin. Though HPV can be found anywhere in the plantar surface or sole of the foot, they tend to produce symptoms in areas of most pressure and friction.

What do plantar warts look like?

The most noticeable symptom is a thickened callus-like growth that tends to become quite tender, especially if it occurs around areas of continuous pressure. Because of this pressure, plantar warts appear flat or grow inwards. They can occur solo or in a cluster (mosaic warts). They may also have black spots (caused by dilated blood vessels) on their surfaces.

How do you get plantar warts?

HPV thrives in warm, moist environments and you may contract it by walking barefooted around locker rooms or swimming pools.
HPV gains entry into the skin of the foot through:

  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Cracks in dry skin
  • Moist, softened, fragile skin that has been in the water a long time

How do you treat plantar warts?

Treatment of plantar warts is recommended to lessen symptoms (including pain), decrease duration and reduce transmission. Plantar warts may eventually clear up on their own after a certain period of time. However, since they are frequently painful, especially when standing, walking, running or when squeezed, you may want to have them treated immediately and completely by a podiatrist.