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Plantar Warts

Plantar Warts Overview

Warts are a result of the most common viral infection of the skin. Plantar warts grow on the plantar surface, or the sole, of the foot. They can be found anywhere in this area but tend to produce symptoms in areas of pressure and friction. The virus that causes warts, the human papillomavirus, infects only the superficial layer of skin, producing a thickened callus-like growth that, if located in an areas subjected to pressure, can become quite tender.

Although warts characteristically resolve spontaneously, it may become necessary to treat warts that negatively affect an individual’s ability to walk. The incubation period (the period of time between infection and the production of the visible skin lesion) is unknown but has been estimated to vary from months to years. Historical evidence is of little benefit in attempting to determine how one’s wart was acquired. There are at least 120 different types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and only certain types are responsible for skin warts. Certain virus types tend to infect specific anatomical areas, like the plantar surface of the foot. Other HPV types infect the genital tract and are a cause of cervical and other genital cancers. Warts are ubiquitous infections, with least one-half of adults infected during their lifetime. The current prevalence of plantar warts in adults is unknown, but it is a fraction of the estimated 7%-10% of adults with all types of wart infections.

Plantar warts are seen in all age groups, but they are most common among children 12-16 years of age and rare in the elderly.

Risk factors for the development of plantar warts include

Use of public showers

Skin trauma

Weakened immune system because of certain medications used or illness