Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are a type of skin infection on your feet caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The infection causes rough bumps to form, which may be uncomfortable or painful. Treatment options include home remedies, medications and therapies.


What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts (verruca plantaris) are benign (not harmful) rough bumps that form on the soles of your feet. They develop when the human papillomavirus (HPV) enters a cut or break in your skin and causes an infection.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Who can get plantar warts?

Anyone can get plantar warts. However, you may be more likely to get plantar warts if:

  • You’re a child or teenager.
  • You have an autoimmune disease.
  • You have a weakened immune system.
  • You’re 65 years of age or older.
  • You’re white.

How common are plantar warts?

Plantar warts are common. Approximately 10% of people have plantar warts. Between 10% and 20% of children and teenagers have plantar warts.


How do plantar warts affect my body?

Plantar warts may be painful. They may cause you to change how you stand, walk or run to avoid pain. Over time, these changes to your natural posture or movement may cause pain, discomfort or stress in the muscles, tissues or joints in your feet and ankles.

Plantar warts can also affect your mental health. You may feel self-conscious about their appearance and avoid going barefoot or wearing certain types of shoes or footwear, which may cause stress, anxiety or depression.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of plantar warts?

Plantar wart symptoms include:

  • Similar in appearance to other warts, but they exist deeper in your skin, like an iceberg.
  • Rough, thick surface that may look like cauliflower.
  • Discoloration (dark pink, yellow, brown, purple or gray).
  • Dotted with brown or black specks (wart seeds). These are dried blood clots.
  • Pain or tenderness.
  • Discomfort.
  • Bleeding.

Plantar warts typically form:

  • On, around or between your toes.
  • On the balls of your feet (forefeet).
  • On your heels.

Sometimes, many plantar warts will grow together in a large cluster called a mosaic wart.


What causes plantar warts?

HPV causes plantar warts. When HPV enters a cut or break in your skin, it causes a skin infection that forms a plantar wart. It may take two to six months after HPV exposure for plantar warts to appear.

Are plantar warts contagious?

Plantar warts are contagious. They spread from direct contact with HPV, through either skin-to-skin contact or sharing items such as shoes, socks and towels. If you have a plantar wart, you can infect yourself by touching the plantar wart with another part of your body.

HPV can also spread through infected surfaces, especially if they’re warm or wet. It’s a good idea to wear shoes or flip-flops at the gym, public pool, sauna, steam room or other public places.

Diagnosis and Tests

How are plantar warts diagnosed?

A healthcare provider can typically diagnose plantar warts by examining your bumps.

In some cases, they may perform a biopsy. They’ll remove a small amount of the bump and send it to a laboratory so other healthcare providers can test it for HPV. You should get the results of your biopsy in a few days.

Management and Treatment

How do you remove a plantar wart?

Plantar warts often go away on their own after one to two years, after your immune system fights off the virus. However, because plantar warts can spread, cause pain and make you feel self-conscious, your healthcare provider may recommend treatment. Plantar wart treatment options include:

  • Cryotherapy: Your healthcare provider applies extreme cold to freeze and destroy the plantar wart. To create the severe cold, your healthcare provider will use a substance like liquid nitrogen or argon gas.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight HPV. This process involves a topical chemical, such as diphencyprone (DCP). DCP causes a mild allergic reaction that makes the plantar wart go away.
  • Laser treatment: Your healthcare provider uses laser light to heat and destroy the tiny blood vessels inside your plantar wart. The treatment cuts off the blood supply, which kills the plantar wart.
  • Electrocautery: Your healthcare provider uses an electric current to burn your planter warts off.
  • Topical medicine: Your healthcare provider applies a liquid medicine that contains the chemical cantharidin. A blister forms under the plantar wart that cuts off the blood supply. Your healthcare provider will remove the dead plantar wart about a week later.
  • Surgery: Your healthcare provider will numb the area with a local anesthetic. Then, they’ll use a sharp surgical knife (scalpel) to cut around the wart and a small scoop (curette) to scoop it out or tweezers to pull it out.

Are there any home remedies for plantar warts?

Yes, there are home remedies for plantar warts. They include:

  • Duct tape: Duct tape helps remove layers of plantar warts. After several weeks of wearing duct tape, you should be able to scrape out your plantar wart with an exfoliating tool or pull it out with tweezers.
  • Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid breaks down layers of thick skin. A higher percentage of salicylic acid (20% to 40%) is most effective. You should be able to scrub out or pull out your plantar wart after several weeks.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which kills off bacteria (antibacterial), and malic acid, which is an alpha hydroxyl acid that naturally exfoliates your skin. Apply apple cider vinegar at least twice a day. After several weeks, you can scrub out or pull out your wart.

How do I manage my plantar wart symptoms?

Plantar warts may be uncomfortable or painful, which can affect how you stand or walk. Shoe inserts or plantar wart patches can help provide relief. To prevent direct pressure, cut holes into your shoe inserts around your plantar warts. You can also put doughnut-shaped pads on your plantar warts.

It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable socks and shoes. Avoid footwear that may put a lot of pressure on your plantar warts, such as high heels, pointed-toe shoes or flip-flops.

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin (Bayer®), ibuprofen (Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®), will reduce pain and inflammation. Not everyone can take NSAIDs, so it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before use.


How can I reduce my risk of developing plantar warts?

There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing plantar warts:

  • Avoid touching plantar warts on yourself or another person.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap after touching a plantar wart.
  • Thoroughly clean your feet, toes and the spaces between your toes when you bathe.
  • Dry your feet, toes and the spaces between your toes after swimming or bathing.
  • Don’t share towels, washcloths, shoes, socks, nail clippers or other personal items.
  • Wear clean cotton or wool socks that absorb moisture or socks made out of synthetic materials that wick away moisture.
  • Clean your shoes with disinfecting sprays or wipes.
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops in public locker rooms, pools, saunas, steam rooms or showers.
  • Throw away or thoroughly clean emery boards, pumice stones or exfoliating tools that you use to scrape away dead skin on your plantar warts.
  • Get the HPV vaccine.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have plantar warts?

The outlook for people with plantar warts is good. Over-the-counter treatments can get rid of plantar warts as quickly as two weeks. Without treatment, your immune system usually fights off the HPV infection after one to two years.

But once you have HPV, there’s no sure way to keep plantar warts from returning. After treatment, plantar warts can reappear at the same location or appear in another part of the bottom of your foot. Some people get rid of plantar warts and never have them again.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Contact a healthcare provider if your plantar wart:

  • Bleeds or breaks open often, increasing the risk of infection or spreading the virus.
  • Itches.
  • Looks infected (discolored, pus-filled or tender).
  • Makes standing or walking difficult or painful.
  • Changes colors.
  • Grows or spreads
  • Causes embarrassment.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • How can you tell that I have a plantar wart?
  • If I don’t have a plantar wart, what other skin condition might I have?
  • How can I keep plantar warts from spreading to other parts of my body?
  • How can I keep plantar warts from spreading to other people?
  • What steps can I take to prevent getting more plantar warts?
  • What’s the best treatment for my plantar wart?
  • Should I avoid any medications or treatments?
  • Do I need to get my plantar wart surgically removed?
  • Should I see a foot specialist (podiatrist)?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between a plantar wart and a corn?

A plantar wart is a rough bump that forms on the sole of your foot. HPV causes plantar warts. They’re contagious.

A corn is a buildup of small, round, hard and thick skin. Corns can appear on your feet or your hands and fingers. Repeated friction, rubbing, irritation or pressure on your skin causes corns. They’re not contagious.

What is the difference between a common wart and a plantar wart?

Common warts (palmar warts) form on your hands and fingers. They’re the most common type of wart.

Plantar warts appear on the soles of your feet.

Are plantar warts an STD?

No, plantar warts aren’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD). HPV causes warts, but there are over 100 types of HPV.

HPV types 1, 2, 3, 4, 27 and 57 cause plantar warts. Skin-to-skin sexual contact doesn’t spread these types of HPV, so they aren’t STDs.

HPV types 6 and 11 cause most cases of genital warts. Skin-to-skin sexual contact spreads these types of HPV, so they’re STDs.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Plantar warts are common, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t embarrassing or unpleasant. They may even cause pain, depending on where they are on your foot. Your body’s immune system may fight off the virus that causes plantar warts over time. However, plantar warts respond well to treatment. If you have plantar warts, it’s a good idea to use caution when touching them so you don’t spread them to other parts of your body or other people.

Reach out to your healthcare provider if your plantar warts are spreading or painful or are causing stress. They can recommend the best at-home or in-office treatment to get rid of your plantar warts.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/12/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.5725