Common Foot and Ankle Problems & Treatments

General Information

A wart is a callus-like growth on the skin caused by a virus. They can appear anywhere on the foot, but those to the sole of the foot are called plantar warts, and can be quite painful. Warts can occur at any age, but are most common in children and adolescents. Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus enters through small cracks in the skin, and often contracted by walking barefoot.

What are the symptoms?

  • Callus with a cauliflower appearance.
  • Pain with standing and with compression of the callus.
  • Tiny black dots in the callus, which are capillaries of the wart, and may bleed if the callus is trimmed.

What causes warts?

When we walk barefoot where someone else has walked barefoot, we are sometimes exposed to viruses left on the ground by that person.

Normally, our skin is a barrier to foreign invaders like the wart virus. Because of the trauma (usually incurred by everyday walking) to the skin of our feet, however, it is easy to find a “crack in our armor”.

When this happens, the wart virus can gain entry to our normal skin cells, and quickly takes over that cell’s function.

How are warts diagnosed?

It is best to have any new growth examined by a podiatrist, or foot and ankle specialist, to ensure a correct diagnosis.



How can warts be treated?

There are various ways to treat plantar warts. The warts are very tough, however, and it is sometimes difficult to treat them so that they go away completely and don't grow back.

Possible treatments include

  • Place medications on top of the wart, to help kill the wart virus and remove the wart tissue.
  • Freeze the wart.
  • Burn the wart.
  • Inject medication into the wart.
  • Remove the wart surgically.
  • Lasers that do not involve needles, cutting, or the application of medications.

You may get relief from the pain (from the thick skin that is actually the wart) by wearing a doughnut bandage. This type of bandage surrounds the wart, leaving a hole directly over the wart. Do NOT scrape or pick at the wart, as this can cause the virus to spread.

What can I do to prevent plantar warts?

Plantar warts occur more often in people who often walk barefoot.

Wearing shoes or sandals, especially in places like locker rooms, may help to prevent plantar warts.