What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts, also calledfish eyes, arenoncancerous skin growths, caused by a viral infection in the top layer of skin. This lesion is caused by a strain of virus calledhuman papillomavirus or HPV.

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), specifically types 1, 2, 4, 60 and 63. These strains of the virus attack the skin on the soles of the feet.

Some people mistakenly think that plantar warts are malignant and in fact, not harmful. However, wartscan cause discomfortdepending on their location.

Note: Plantar warts usuallydon’t protrude from the skinas much as warts elsewhere on the body, in part because of the pressure of walking and their flattening effect.

Causes of plantar warts

The main causes of the appearance of plantar wartscome from different situations, so we must pay attention to the following considerations mentioned below, to perform preventive actions:

Weak immune system

When the human immune system is weakened by a disease such as HIV or due to nutrient deficiency, HPV has the facility to lodge in the human body, encouraging the appearance of these annoying lesions.

That is why plantar warts are more common in children, because their immune system has not yet created the necessary protective barriers to prevent infection. It is very necessary then, thatpatients go to the doctor and evaluate the ways to enhance the immune system.

Note: A diet rich in beta-carotene, contained in Red Fruits, strengthens the immune system, making it more difficult to spread by HPV. Over time, the wart may go away on its own thanks to a strong immune system.

Direct contagion

We must be clear that what is contagious is not the wart itself, but the virus that causes it (HPV). In this sense,caution must be exercised when having contact with people who suffer from warts or who are suspected of being infected with HPV.

wounds and cracks

The HPV that causes plantar warts must have a gateway into the human body that favors contagion, therefore it is important if you have wounds or cracks on the sole of your foot to avoid walking barefoot.

heat and humidity

Areas and spaces with high temperatures and humidity, such as spas, swimming pools, among others, serve as an ecosystem for HPV. If you must walk through these places,it is advisable to have your feet well protected against these environmental factors.

poor hygiene

Foot care is very necessary, in order to create and always have a strong and stable protective skin barrier, to prevent the formation of skin lesions that allow the spread of HPV, and the consequent appearance of plantar warts.

Note: The risk of a person getting a wart varies. Those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible. But those with a healthy immune system can also develop warts.

Symptoms of plantar warts

These plantar warts Show up with certain clinical manifestationsthat define them. We mention the most common:

Fleshy and rough lesions

In patients suffering from these plantar warts, a small, fleshy, rough and granular growth forms on the sole of the foot, usually on the forefoot or hindfoot and heel, areas where the greatest pressure is exerted when walking.


When there is a plantar wart, the patient, when pressing when walking, feels an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience such as a prick, tingling, stinging, burning or discomfort.

thick and hardened skin

The plantar wart, due to constant pressure when walking, grows inward,Forminga layer of hard, thick skin on top of the wart, which is what we normally see when these warts appear.

Black spots

These black dots, commonly called wart seeds, are small clotted blood vessels in the wart and are usually located in the center of the wart.


When the superficial part of the wart peels off, it exposes the small blood vessels inside it, giving the possibility of bleeding.

Important: HPV, and therefore plantar warts, are not transmitted through blood.

Types of plantar warts

Plant wartshave peculiar characteristicsthat allow them to be identified. We present below the different types that the scientific literature has classified.


A solitary or single wart is a single wart in a space on the sole of the foot . It often increases in size and can eventually multiply, forming additional “satellite” warts.


This type of plantar warts are characterized by appearing in pressure areas of the foot such as the heel or hindfoot and in the forefoot.


Mosaic warts are characterized by forming a group of several small wartsthat grow together in one area. These mosaic warts are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.

Notable: An article describes a case of mosaic plantar wart, resistant to conventional procedures. (1)

Treatment to remove plantar warts

With technological advances in science, patients suffering from plantar warts have varied treatment options, and it will be the doctor who advises the best option. We mention the most used:


Over-the-counter drugs for warts are treatments that includemedications that are applied topically (gel, ointment, lotion) and usually includesalicylic acid, which acts by scaling the wart. This option can take months to achieve favorable results.

Note:A study on “Topical treatment of multiple filiform warts on the face with 5-fluorouracil plus retinoic acid. Report of a case” , administered twice a day, obtained the expected results in 30 days. (two)

Minor surgery, cryotherapy and laser

The “Guide to surgical procedures” indicates that this procedure consists of scraping the most superficial layer of the wart with a scalpel or scissors, protecting the skin surrounding the lesion and subsequent application of the keratolytic.

consist of a mixture of salicylic acid and 16.7% lactic acid, or 30-40% salicylic acid.

Note: This treatment allows the cell destruction of the plantar wart, being essential in the treatment of this type of lesions and must be carried out by a doctor.

The treatment through the application of laser, consists of raising the exogenous temperature of the tissue, since it has been proven that infected tissue is more sensitive to the effects of elevated temperature than normal tissue. Thismust be done by a doctor specialized in this type of procedure.

A study verified the efficacy in the treatment of plantar warts with 1064 nm laser, with parameters tolerable to the patient. (5)


In essence, HPV after being infected has no cure , and that is why the individual is likely to suffer from warts, depending on the type of strain with which they were infected.

In this context, the benefits of the vaccine are aimed at those people who have not yet been infected. That is why the recommendation to get the vaccine is aimed at the young population of girls and boys aged 11 or 12, although it can be administered as early as 9 years old.

Important: It should be noted that the vaccine only protects against certain strains of HPV.

How to prevent plantar warts?

There are preventive mechanisms , which we must put into practice, in order to minimize the risk of infection by HPV, to the consequent appearance of warts. We mention some of them:

Avoid contact with infected people

Wash your hands and feet with disinfectant soap,if you think or suspect that you have been in contact with people who carry HPV. Avoid picking or scratching, and wash your hands if you touch a wart.

Maintain proper hygiene

Hygiene in the full sense of the word can also reduce risk bynot touching anyone’s warts or sharing personal items such as towels and household items. You have to avoid any kind of infection.

Avoid walking with bare feet

HPVthrives in warm, humid places, such as locker room floors, bathrooms, and around pools between many common areas. Those little puddles on the surface of floor tiles are a breeding ground for HPV.

Sterilize the instruments to fix the feet

Also, do not touch the warts at the time of foot care, to avoid spreading them. If you get a pedicure, make sure the salon followsSanitizing Guidelines.

Important: Avoid infection from this cause, especially with the use of pumice stone, whose purpose is to remove the first layers of skin from the sole of the foot.

Pay attention to wounds and cuts

The virus is spread by direct contact and you can catch it more easily if you have a break or break in your skin. Take all precautions if you have cuts or scrapes on the bottom of your foot.

Key Findings

  • Plant wartsare not an immediate health problem.
  • They form on the bottom of the foot , especially the rear and forefoot.
  • They are generally annoying when walking.
  • One of the main causes is having a weak immune system.
  • It is advisable to visit the doctor in case you suspect this condition, so that you can receive professional guidance.
  • The use of treatments such ascryotherapy and salicylic acid are themost commonly used options.

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