A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly.
What is a Wart?
Warts are a non-cancerous growths of the skin. Plantar warts are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body.
HPV only infects the superficial structures of the skin, and thus does not invade any other body parts. The warts typically occur on areas of the foot that are under direct pressure, such as the ball and heel of the foot.
Causes of Warts
Warts infect the skin by penetrating microscopic cuts in its outer layers. The HPV virus can live for many months of moist surfaces. Hence, gyms, showers, sharing of shoes and other moist areas can harbor the virus. Once the virus enters the skin, symptoms will usually be noticed within several weeks. It is estimated that up to 12% of the world's population and 20% of school aged children are infected with this type of HPV wart. Most people who are infected with the virus will have spontaneous resolution within 6 months.
Warts on the foot are difficult to resolve. Most treatments have a high failure rate. Often, it takes many attempts to solve the problem. Some treatments which have been used include, surgical removal, lasers, cryosurgery, kerolytic compounds, dried extract of a blister beetle and others. Despite this extensive and diverse list of possible treatment modalities, there is little consensus as to a gold standard treatment.