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Plantar Warts

Plantar Warts Overview

Warts are caused by an infection of the skin by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common viral infection of the skin. Plantar warts grow on the plantar surface or the sole of the foot. They can be found anywhere in this area but tend to produce symptoms in areas of pressure and friction. The virus that causes warts, the human papillomavirus, infects only the superficial layer of skin, producing a thickened callus-like growth that, if located in an areas subjected to pressure, can become quite tender.

Although warts characteristically resolve spontaneously, it is occasionally necessary to treat painful plantar warts. The incubation period (the period of time between infection and the production of the visible skin lesion) is unknown but estimates vary from months to years. Historical evidence is of little benefit in attempting to determine how one's wart was acquired. There are at least 120 different types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and certain types tend to infect specific anatomical areas, like the plantar surface of the foot. Other HPV types that infect oral or genital mucous membranes are implicated in the development of cervical cancer and other malignancies of the oral or anal lining tissues. HPV infections are ubiquitous infections, with least one-half of adults infected during their lifetime. The current prevalence of plantar warts in adults is unknown, but it is a fraction of the estimated 7%-10% of adults with all types of wart virus infections.

  • Plantar warts are seen in all age groups, but they are most common among children 12-16 years of age and rare in the elderly.
  • Risk factors for the development of plantar warts include
    • use of public showers,
    • skin trauma, and
    • weakened immune system because of certain medications used or illness.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/15/2016

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Common Foot Pain Problems

Foot pain may be caused by a variety of problems. See photos of common foot problems, such as corns and calluses, plantar warts, gout, bunions, athlete's foot, hammertoe, ingrown toenails, and flatfoot.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Warts, Plantar »

Plantar warts are hyperkeratotic lesions on the plantar surface.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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