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Plantar Warts (Warts on Feet) 

Introduction
Plantar warts are small growths that appear on the bottom of the foot.  A virus causes plantar warts.  They are contagious and can be spread from person to person.  Plantar warts should not be treated with over-the-counter treatments.  A doctor should remove plantar warts.

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Anatomy
Your skin covers your body and protects it from the environment.  It is composed of three major layers.  Warts typically grow on the outer layer of skin, but plantar warts can grow into the deeper layers.  It is common for the portion of the wart that is below the skin to be larger than the wart that is visible.

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Causes
Plantar warts are caused by contact with the virus that causes warts.  Warts are highly contagious.  The virus (human papilloma virus) that cause plantar warts is spread by direct contact with a wart and by contact with surfaces that have the viruses on it, such as locker room floors, shower floors, and swimming pool surrounds.

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Symptoms
Plantar warts occur on the bottom of the foot.  They can be painful and grow into the skin instead of outward.  Plantar warts are shaped like an iceberg and may appear spongy, rough, brown, gray, yellow, or have tiny spots.  The wart may bleed if scraped or bumped.
 
Plantar warts can be painful.  Because plantar warts commonly develop on the heels or balls of the foot, they may be especially uncomfortable when you stand or walk.

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Diagnosis
Your doctor can diagnose a plantar wart by its appearance.  In some cases, the wart may be scraped to obtain cell samples for confirmation.

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Treatment
Plantar warts should not be removed with over-the-counter treatments.  A podiatrist can remove warts with liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy that freezes and removes warts.  Laser therapy and surgery are also methods for wart removal.  Prescription cream may be used to help treat warts or prevent new ones.

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Prevention
Warts are very contagious.  You should avoid touching warts on another person or yourself.  Warts can be spread from one part of your body to another.  You should wear sandals or other protection in locker rooms and public shower areas to protect your feet from contact with the virus.

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Am I at Risk
Warts are highly contagious.  You should avoid touching warts that are on other people or yourself.  The viruses that cause warts thrive in warm moist areas.  You are at risk for plantar warts if you walk barefoot in locker rooms and other public areas.  Plantar warts most frequently occur in children under 16.

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Complications

Plantar warts that are not treated can increase in size or form clusters (mosaic warts).  They can change the way a person stands or walks and contribute to an imbalance of posture that creates leg or back pain.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.