Photos of Plantar Warts on Feet

Learn what warts look like

What do plantar warts look like? When you have a painful spot on the bottom of your foot, you might wonder whether it is this common foot wart, also called plantar verruca. While you may benefit from getting checked out by a doctor, these photos and explanations may help you get a better sense of what you might be dealing with. 

How Plantar Warts Appear on Your Foot

Terence Vanderheiden, D.P.M.

While warts on your hands and other parts of your body can have a wide variation in how they look, plantar warts on your feet have a more consistent appearance. They are usually round and you can mistake them for a corn or callus.

Plantar warts are usually flat rather than raised because they are covered by the top layer of the tough skin of the sole of your foot. But they might also have a rough, grainy surface texture. The little black dots near the center of the wart are the blood supply to the wart.

They can occur singly or you may have them in clusters. Warts can stay small or you can get a giant plantar wart. Often, they appear on the heel or ball of your foot, where you place your weight when standing or walking.

How Warts Appear Different From Calluses

Terence Vanderheiden, D.P.M.

Warts on your feet can often look like calluses, which are thickened areas of skin. But warts have a few distinguishing features that calluses do not:

  • Skin Lines Interrupted by Warts: Warts will interrupt the skin lines on the bottom of the foot, whereas calluses will have skin lines continue through the hard, dead skin.
  • Black Dots: Warts usually have small black dots and calluses do not. The dots are often called the seed of the wart, but they are not an actual seed. They are the capillaries that carry the blood supply that feeds the wart.
  • Pain When Squeezed: Warts are more painful when they are squeezed side to side and calluses are more painful when pushed on directly.

If your wart is well-defined, interrupts the natural skin lines, and you can see a black dot, that will help you determine it isn't just a callus.

Multiple Warts (Plantar Verruca) on the Foot

Terence Vanderheiden, D.P.M.

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which infects the epidermis (the upper layer of skin). Multiple warts can develop on the sole of your foot once it is infected.

Multiple warts can appear as distinct warts in different spots, or they can be grouped together in a cluster, which is called a mosaic wart. A large cluster of warts can be very painful and make it uncomfortable to walk or run. It's also more difficult to treat a larger cluster to eliminate them.

When to See the Doctor for Plantar Warts

Terence Vanderheiden, D.P.M.

Plantar warts can go away on their own without treatment, or you might use an over-the-counter treatment for them found in the drugstore. These treatments use salicylic acid to remove the layers of the wart slowly. Most people don't see a doctor for treatment until after these self-care tactics have failed.

You should see your doctor if the wart changes appearance or color, if it is bleeding, or if you have multiple warts. If you have diabetes, poor sensation in your feet, or a weakened immune system, you should also have the wart seen by a doctor.

Your doctor may use a stronger preparation of salicylic acid or use cryotherapy, applying liquid nitrogen to the wart to freeze it off. There are further methods that can be used, including immune therapy, minor surgery, and laser treatment. Another interesting treatment is with HPV vaccine, even though the particular type of HPV that causes plantar warts is not targeted by the vaccine.

A Word From Verywell

If you aren't sure whether the foot lesion is a plantar wart, it is wise to see your doctor. This common problem can be treated and you'll be on the road to less pain when walking or standing.

Sources:

Plantar Wart (Verruca Plantaris). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. 

Plantar warts. Mayo Clinic. 

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