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What is the Best Way to Treat Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts affect the plantar surface, or sole, of your foot. Read on to learn what they are, what makes them different from corns, and how you can treat them.

What Are Plantar Warts?

These warts grow on the bottoms of your feet. They are small and rough. They tend to grow at the base of the toes, on the ball of the foot, or on the heel. All of these areas are typically under higher pressure than the rest of your foot when you’re standing. Often, a callus will form on the surface of the wart as the actual wart continues to grow inward.

Plantar Warts vs. Corns

Even though plantar warts and corns share some outward similarities, they are fundamentally different. The warts are caused by HPV – human papilloma virus – and are contagious. They get started after the virus enters tiny cuts or breaks in the skin of the foot soles. Despite their cause, they are not sexually transmitted.

Corns, on the other hand, are entirely made of callus tissue. They grow in a cone shape, with the point of the cone below the surface of the skin. This shape makes them very painful to step on. Corns are not caused by a virus or other microbe. Instead, friction and foot rotation are at the root of them. Friction promotes callus formation, and when the friction occurs while the foot is rotating – as happens if you “spin on your feet” several times per day – it causes the callus to be cone-shaped.

Symptoms of Plantar Warts

  • One or more small, rough growths on the bottom of the foot, commonly appearing at the base of the toes or at the heel. Against dark skin, these may appear lighter than the surrounding skin.
  • Warts that appear as a cluster on the bottom of your foot, also known as “mosaic warts.”
  • A callus may grow over these spots when the wart(s) have grown inward.
  • Wart seeds –black pinpoints caused by clotted small blood vessels.
  • Growth(s) that interrupt the natural lines of your foot sole.
  • Tenderness or pain when walking.

Home Remedies

Plantar warts are fairly easy to treat, and several home remedies have successfully been used to do this.

  • Vinegar. Apply apple cider vinegar to the wart(s) twice a day. It is suggested to use cotton balls for this.
  • Salicylic acid. This acid is often used in acne products, but it’s also good for treating plantar warts. Wart creams and ointments have it in higher concentrations, so you should choose these to treat your warts. As with the vinegar, you’ll need to apply the cream or ointment twice per day. After several weeks, the wart will usually disappear.
  • Tea tree oil. Proponents of tea tree oil say that it works for almost everything. If you’re a fan, try applying it to your warts twice a day.
  • Over-the-counter freezing sprays. Freezing has long been one of the treatments offered by doctors. OTC freezing sprays are meant to mimic the effect. They use canned liquid nitrogen. To use them, spray your wart for about 20 seconds. This will cause a blister. In about a week, the blister falls off – and hopefully, so will your wart.

Professional Treatments

Common doctor’s treatments include freezing, high-strength salicylic acid, laser treatment, and even minor surgery. Since some of the methods overlap with OTC ones, you can save money and time by going for the OTC version first.

To get help with your plantar warts, request a visit online at Valley Skin Institute in Fresno, CA.


Dr. Leslie Storey | Valley Skin Institute

Dr. Leslie Storey is a board-certified physician specializing in medical and surgical dermatology. Her mission is to find and remove skin cancer, which she does more than 2,000 times a year. An expert in Mohs Surgery, Dr. Storey’s patients often comment that they are amazed at how minimal their scar is after they have healed from surgery. If you notice anything suspicious on your skin, request an appointment with Dr. Storey to have it checked out.

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