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.
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.
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Anyone can get plantar warts. However, you may be more likely to get plantar warts if:
Plantar warts are common. Approximately 10% of people have plantar warts. Between 10% and 20% of children and teenagers have plantar warts.
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.
Plantar wart symptoms include:
Plantar warts typically form:
Sometimes, many plantar warts will grow together in a large cluster called a mosaic wart.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Yes, there are home remedies for plantar warts. They include:
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.
There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing 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.
Contact a healthcare provider if your plantar wart:
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.
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.
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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2023.
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