What Are Warts?

A wart is an infection caused by a virus, which can invade your skin through small cuts or breaks. Over time, the wart develops into a hard, rough growth on the surface of the skin. A wart is most commonly seen on the bottom of the foot (plantar wart), but can also appear on the top. Children, teens, and people with allergies or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the wart virus.


Warts may appear spongy, with tiny red, brown, or black spots. They can grow up to an inch or more across, occurring alone (solitary) or with smaller warts clustered nearby (mosaic). Warts are sometimes mistaken for corns or calluses. They can persist for years and recur on the same spot. If left untreated, warts can spread to other parts of the foot or even to the hands or other areas of the body.


Your podiatrist examines your wart carefully to determine that it is not a corn or callus. A wart will usually feel painful when your podiatrist squeezes it from side to side. To examine the wart further, the hard skin layer around it may need to be trimmed. A wart will have certain spots that bleed when trimmed; a callus will not.

How Does My Podiatrist Treat Warts?

There are many ways to treat warts, depending on their size and location. Medication or surgical removal, or both, may be effective treatments. A few of the possible treatment methods are described below; freezing or burning may also be used to treat warts. Even after warts are removed, they may recur.


The wart is broken down by applying an acidic medication. Blister-forming medication may also be used. Treatment may need to be repeated over several weeks.


The wart is removed with a small, spook-shaped instrument (curette). To lessen pain, a local anesthetic is often used with this procedure. You may need to decrease your activity.

Other treatment includes applying topical medication with daily dressing changes.

What Can I Do About Warts?

After your podiatrist treats your warts, protect your feet from future infection by keeping them clean and dry. Avoid going barefoot in public places like showers, gyms, and locker rooms. The wart virus may spread easily in moist settings like these. Wear thongs or sandals on your feet.

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