What is a Planter Wart?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Many people misspell “plantar wart” as “planter wart,” mistaking the similar sounds of these two different words. “Plantar” means “pertaining to the sole of the foot,” as in plantar fasciitis and plantar warts, while “planter” refers either to a container used to grow plants, or a person who establishes plants in a garden.

A plantar wart is frozen from a patient's foot using cryotherapy.
A plantar wart is frozen from a patient's foot using cryotherapy.

A plantar wart or verruca plantaris is a wart which appears on the bottom of the foot or the toes. These benign growths can be quite persistent and sometimes very painful, leading many people to seek treatment for plantar warts. Several approaches to treatment can be used, depending on a doctor's personal experience with handling warts, and the severity of the patient's case. People should be aware that plantar warts are contagious, and that the virus which causes these warts can also be spread to other parts of the body.

Plantar warts appear on the bottom of the foot or toes.
Plantar warts appear on the bottom of the foot or toes.

Plantar warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), the same virus which causes genital warts. Most people get plantar warts from walking on moist, heavily trafficked surfaces like gym floors. The virus causes a small lump to develop in the bottom of the foot. A plantar wart can be white to gray in color, and it is often flecked with darker material. The skin around the wart may begin to dry and curl back, creating an unsightly appearance.

While a plantar wart on its own is not a cause for medical concern, these warts can be extremely irritating, and because they are contagious, many people like to treat them. Treatment can be accomplished with topical creams and patches, pastes made from salicylic acid, freezing, or burning. Some people have a great deal of success with duct tape, which is kept over the wart all day, except for a half hour of soaking and exfoliation. Surgical measures can also be used to treat plantar warts, along with immunotherapy injections.

A doctor can usually identify plantar warts by sight, although a sample may be taken for laboratory analysis in cases where the warts are ambiguous. Some people confuse plantar warts with calluses or corns, in which case a biopsy can be useful to confirm that the problem is in fact a wart. Once a plantar wart has occurred, it can recur, even after it has been removed, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on foot health after a wart removal procedure.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon999827

I, too, have had a plantar wart for years, and it's sore to walk on. My experience of chiropodist and podiatrist treatments have been varied, often random and even dismissive, and evidently unsuccessful. So I'm going to try the garlic suggestion above — thank you — in tandem with duct tape.

anon35776

I have had a plantar wart for many years that has been very tender and stubborn, not to mention embarrassing. I read that garlic (applied topically) will get rid of it. It stinks, but really seems to be working. Apply morning and night for 1 to 2 weeks. Beats other painful procedures! Good luck!

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