Plantar warts, also known as verruca plantaris, are caused by a virus that invades the skin. They tend to occur in pressure points, such as the ball of the foot or the heel area; however, they can occur in other parts of the foot. They are usually accompanied by thickened skin, which can make walking painful and very difficult.
Conservative treatment of plantar warts may include paring down the thickened skin, or debridements, as well as a variety of topical preparations. Over the counter acid removers are not recommended as they can lead to ulcerations and bone infections when used improperly.
Warts that are unresponsive to conservative care may need to be addressed from a surgical standpoint, during which the lesion(s) is/are surgically removed, or excised, from the foot. The lesion(s) is/are then sent to a pathology lab for analysis. After surgery, physician-directed local wound care is paramount to the healing process.
Oftentimes, warts are mistaken for either corns, which are thickened areas of skin that occur on the tops or tips of the toes, or for calluses, which are thickened areas of skin on the bottom of the foot. Your foot doctor is trained to clinically identify characteristics of plantar warts, and can discuss treatment options with you upon physical examination.