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What makes a wart a ‘plantar’ wart?

Plantar wart

The term ‘plantar’ just refers to the bottom of your foot.  A wart on your hand would be a palmar wart, on your face, a facial wart etc. It is not a special variety of wart, just a really bad place to have one.

Why are Plantar Warts so Painful?

Plantar WartOn the weight bearing areas of the foot though, the lump is pressed into the skin to sit flush. Normally, your skin is arranged in such a way that the little nerve ends are protected from getting squashed when you bear weight.  A wart is a mutation of the skin cells, kind of like cancer might be a mutation of a normal liver or kidney cell. The architecture of the skin changes and the nerve endings are no longer protected but exposed to be squeezed excessively.  This causes pain.

What are the black spots I can see?

Warts have a typical, cauliflower appearance as shown in the diagram. The nerve tissue becoming disorganized inside a wart, so do the blood vessels. The black spots you can see are blood vessels that are poking out of the skin, an orientation that doesn’t occur normally.

Are Plantar Warts Contagious?

Yes, plantar warts are contagious. They will usually become covered with a callus.  It is a good idea not to cut, pick or buff the callus off  as this barrier makes a wart significantly less contagious.

How can I prevent Plantar Warts?

During and after treatment, three things are important. Keep the wart covered before treatment commences and while it is occurring to avoid further infecting yourself or others.  Clean all wet surfaces that your bare foot has touched in the last few days using bleach and water.  (Don’t apply bleach to your skin.) After treatment, inspect your feet (and anyone else in the household) for several months in case you already have a tiny wart growing elsewhere that is currently too small to see.  Wearing non slip footwear into wet public places is probably a good idea to avoid any future troubles. Be kind to your fellow bathers and don’t let your uncovered wart be the one that infects them.

More information is available at our printable Plantar Warts Info Sheet. Alternately, use this link to return to the Podiatry FAQs Blog.

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