Corn or Wart? Learn how to Spot the Difference.

As a podiatrist, I often encounter patients who are unsure whether they have a plantar wart or a plantar corn. While both can cause discomfort and concern, understanding the differences between them is crucial for effective treatment and management. Let’s delve into how you can distinguish between these two common foot issues.

Plantar Warts:

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infecting the outer layer of the skin on the soles of your feet. They typically appear as small, rough growths that may have tiny black dots (clotted blood vessels) within them. Here are some key characteristics to identify a plantar wart:

  1. Appearance: Plantar warts often have a rough, grainy texture and may be grayish or brownish in color. They can appear as a single wart or in clusters (mosaic warts).
  2. Pain: Warts can cause tenderness or pain when walking or standing, especially if they grow inward beneath a callus.
  3. Location: They commonly develop on weight-bearing areas of the foot such as the heel or ball of the foot.
  4. Black Dots: These are small clotted blood vessels that appear as tiny black dots within the wart.
  5. Spread: Warts can spread to other parts of your foot or even to other people if proper precautions are not taken.

Plantar Corns:

Plantar corns, on the other hand, are thickened areas of skin that develop in response to pressure or friction. They are often caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or from abnormal foot mechanics. Here’s how to distinguish them:

  1. Appearance: Corns are usually smaller than warts and have a hard, dense center surrounded by inflamed skin. They may look like a cone-shaped callus.
  2. Pain: Corns tend to be painful when direct pressure is applied to them, such as when walking or standing.
  3. Location: They typically occur on non-weight-bearing areas of the foot, such as the tops and sides of the toes or between toes. They can also occur underneath the bony areas of the forefoot.
  4. Texture: Corns feel hard and dense to the touch, compared to the rough, grainy texture of warts.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

If you’re uncertain whether you have a plantar wart or corn, it’s essential to consult with a podiatrist. A professional examination can confirm the diagnosis and guide appropriate treatment. Treatment options may include:

  • Warts: Topical treatments like salicylic acid, cryotherapy (freezing), or laser therapy to remove the wart. In some cases, surgical removal may be necessary.
  • Corns: Proper footwear, cushioning pads, and removal of the thickened skin through gentle shaving or trimming. Addressing the underlying cause, such as correcting foot mechanics or shoe fit, is also crucial to prevent recurrence.


To reduce your risk of developing plantar warts or corns:

  • Wear properly fitted shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, especially around swimming pools or locker rooms.
  • Maintain good foot hygiene and inspect your feet regularly for any changes.

In conclusion, while both plantar warts and plantar corns can be uncomfortable, understanding their distinct characteristics is key to effective treatment and prevention. If you suspect you have either condition, don’t hesitate to seek advice from one of our qualified podiatrists at Active Care Podiatry who can provide personalised care and guidance tailored to your needs. Your feet deserve the best care possible!

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