Warts are caused by a virus known as human papilloma virus, or HPV. They may occur on non-weight bearing areas, where 90% of the wart will be visible. With warts that occur on the soles of the feet (plantar warts), often only 10% of the wart will be visible.
These warts frequently occur on the areas of the foot that experience the most pressure, such as the ball of your foot or the heel. This increased pressure to those areas from walking and physical activity means that plantar warts can be very painful.
They can be highly contagious, particularly in people with reduced immunity and are commonly spread in moist environments, such as public showers and swimming areas, but not everyone who comes in contact with a plantar wart will develop one. It is not uncommon for one member of a family to develop warts and pass them on to other family members.
Warts are easily identified by your podiatrist, based on a physical examination and description of symptoms.
The most important aspect of treatment for plantar warts is to deflect pressure off the wart. This immediately makes the wart accessible to treatment and eases pain. At Camden Foot Clinic, we use a chemical that dehydrates the wart. This is painless and the foot does not need to be kept dry during treatment. It is of paramount importance not to cause injury to the skin as this may then lead to permanent callous development or painful scarring.
Sometimes plantar warts go away on their own if left untreated. However, many warts can become increasingly larger and more painful and can begin to multiply into clusters of warts. Walking and running will become difficult in these situations.