Plantar warts or Verruca plantaris typically affect the foot and more often than not, appear on areas where pressure and friction exist like the heels. Much like the flat warts, they enter the body or in this case, the soles of the feet through cuts and abrasions. Though not a serious health concern, these can be painful and cause discomfort.
Plantar warts are characterized by small, grainy and fleshy bumps that interrupt the normal ridges of the foot. The wart can sometimes be brown or gray in color with dark pinpoints. These pinpoints may bleed when scratched. Thus, it can also be painful and tender, especially when walking.
This type of wart is caused by HPV or human papillomavirus. More specifically, the culprits are HPV types 1, 2, 3 and 63. These kinds of human papillomavirus are not that contagious, but they are usually found in warm, moist areas. Like with most warts, the virus finds its way inside the body through minor scratches and cuts in the superficial layer of the skin.
The virus enters the body through small cuts and abrasions and through the process of autoinoculation. This means that an existing wart can infect other areas of the skin near its location if latent virus is present. It can even contaminate moist surfaces like the floors of bathrooms, lockers rooms, and swimming areas. So, a simple daily task like walking in these areas (if contaminated) can expose a person to the virus. It should also be noted that these specific type of HPV can survive for a long time without a human host, especially on moist surfaces as mentioned. Direct contact with another person who has plantar warts is also another way it can spread.
The transmission of plantar warts can be prevented by the help of several measures. A simple thing like wearing slippers or sandals on moist surfaces has proven effective in preventing the spread of plantar warts. Personal hygiene is also important. Do not share socks and shoes with another person; and of course, avoid any skin contact with persons infected with plantar warts as this helps in preventing further spreading and transmission of the virus.
Again, most warts are self-limiting and a healthy immune system helps a lot. Because of their location, plantar warts are painful, especially if pressure is applied to the area. That is why, most often than not, a person with this type of warts seeks treatment. Treatment options vary, typically in the form of chemical treatments such as salicylic acid, cryotherapy, laser therapy, and surgical excision. Dermatologists and podiatrists are the specialist in these types of warts.
Plantar warts must be treated immediately as to prevent spreading and forming into clusters known as mosaic warts. Also, having a lot of warts can be very painful when walking or running.