Plantar warts or verrucas are a common problem affecting the foot. They mostly appear on the sole of the foot, or on the sides of the toes. Plantar warts tend to be more problematic than warts found elsewhere on the body. This is due to the pressure of standing on the warts, which causes them to grow inwards instead of outwards. They are most commonly caused by two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV2 & HPV4) that enter the body via a site of trauma. Public pools, change rooms and other public places where people remain barefoot are the most common places to acquire the virus.
Plantar warts are generally soft, white and spongy in appearance. Some warts are covered by callous or hard skin, so the appearance can vary greatly. Warts are generally diagnosed by applying lateral pressure to them (pinching it). A sharp stabbing pain generally indicates it is a wart.
There are many options to consider when treating plantar warts. Usually the treatment will consist of your podiatrist debriding any dead, warty tissue that may be covering the wart. Then your podiatrist will apply a strong keratolytic preparation (usually salicylic acid). This process will be repeated approximately once per week until the wart is removed.
Other options such as freezing, surgical removal of the wart and electrocautery are also available. The type of treatment will depend greatly on the patient and the location of warts on the body.