There are many different types of warts that can pop up on the human body. All of them are caused by the same virus, the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. After being introduced into the body in various ways, the virus replicates and produces a wart. There are hundreds of strains of HPV, some of which may cause warts on the body, and some on the genitals. When a certain type of wart appears on the bottom of your foot, it is called a plantar wart.
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How You Get Plantar Warts and How They Spread
A plantar wart grows on the bottom of your foot, usually on the ball or heel. Look for certain characteristics when trying to figure out if what you have is a plantar wart or not:
- Flat: Although other warts can be raised, such as the common wart or genital warts, a plantar wart is usually flat.
- Blood vessels: Also called “wart seeds,” a classic characteristic of a wart is the presence of black dots on its surface. These are actually clotted blood vessels.
- Callous: It is very common for a plantar wart to have a layer of callused skin over it. Because of this, some people may mistake their wart for something else, such as a corn, or even a mole, if the wart is a brown color.
Your body doesn’t just decide to create a wart on the bottom of your foot one day, there’s a culprit behind it — HPV. This virus thrives in warm, moist environments and is far too small to see. But just simply touching something with the virus on it won’t give you a wart, there are certain ways that it will spread to you.
This is what the process involves:
- Your bare foot touches a surface where HPV is growing. The areas that most commonly harbor HPV are places like showers (especially public ones), locker rooms, bathrooms, and swimming pool/hot tub decks.
- If there is a break in the skin of your feet, the virus can enter in through it. Even the tiniest of openings is enough to allow HPV in. Soaking wet skin is more likely to break apart and allow the virus to enter.
- Once inside your skin, HPV will settle inside your skin’s epithelial cells (upper layer of skin cells). It replicates more and more until breaking out of the skin as a wart. It will even create its own blood supply.
It is possible to spread a plantar wart from one location on your foot to another location on your foot, if the viral particles break off and are able to enter the skin again through other breaks.
Walking around highly moist, warm surfaces will greatly increase your chances for a plantar wart. If the floor is also very dirty, like a public bathroom or locker room, there’s a higher chance that bacteria can enter into the bottom of your foot as well, increasing your chances of infection. Always wear some kind of shoe or sandal when in places where HPV thrives.
When you find a wart on your foot
HPV is what causes warts on the feet. Yet, there can be two types of the growths: plantar warts and the common wart. If you’re wondering which ones you’re dealing with, you should take a look at its characteristics. Location and appearance can tell you whether or not you’re dealing with a plantar wart.
If the wart is raised and appears on any other part of your foot besides the underside, it is most likely the common wart. If it is flat and on the ball of your foot or underside of your heel, you’re probably dealing with a plantar wart. Sometimes, a plantar wart can appear on the underside of a toe. Most of the time, a plantar wart is flesh-colored, but sometimes can appear brown or pink.
If you are confused at whether or not the wart on your toe is a plantar wart, click here.
Can I get a plantar wart on my hand?
The strain of HPV that causes a plantar wart to appear is different than the strain that causes warts on other places, such as your hand. Because of this, you cannot spread a plantar wart from your foot to your hand.
Warts on the hand are referred to as “Palmer Warts.” They share characteristics different than plantar warts that may include:
- Colored, ranging from flesh colored, to brown, to pink.
- Appearing in groupings more often than plantar warts.
You cannot get a plantar wart on your finger, or on the palm of your hand.
There are ways to treat plantar warts on your feet and get rid of them for good. There are over the counter treatments that use salicylic acid to kill the wart tissue, as well as stronger medication that a doctor can apply. There is also the option of cryotherapy and surgical excision, where a physician will cut the wart out of your foot.
For more information on how to treat and get rid of a dead plantar wart, go here.
Plantar warts may go away on their own over time, although it usually takes months if not longer. Although these warts can vary in size from tiny to large, if they’re left alone the chances of them growing to a large size greatly increases. If you’re wanting to get rid of your plantar wart as soon as possible, the best option is some kind of treatment.
There are people who don’t want to use a physician or regular treatment methods. For them, there are other ways to get rid of the wart, such as home remedies.
An Infection in Your Plantar Wart
Since a plantar wart is caused by a break in the skin, it’s also possible that other things besides HPV can enter inside. Bacterial organisms can get under the skin of the plantar wart and cause problems.
Signs of infection may include the following:
- Redness: The skin around an infected plantar wart may start out as pink, then turn to red, then a bright red. If the infection progresses further, you may notice red streaks spreading outward from the wart. If the infection is at a common wart on an appendance like your thumb (it would be a common wart since you cannot get plantar warts on your thumb), the redness will spread down toward your hand.
- Swelling: The site of infection may also swell up as the bacteria grows.
- Pain: And infection causes pain, starting out as generalized tenderness, becoming increasingly painful as the bacteria multiply and grow.
- Pus: As bacteria reproduce, they produce a discharge known as pus, which appears as yellowish or green. If the infections becomes worse, it may leak out through an opening in the skin.
If you think your plantar wart has become infected, make sure to consult a physician. The treatment involves antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, Erythromycin, Azithromycin, Clindamycin, and several others. Further treatment may also involve immediate removal of the plantar wart.
Remember, the sooner you treat a bacterial infection in your body, the less damage is created.
Can Plantar Warts Spread to the Genitals?
There are a few different strains of HPV that are known to cause warts on the genitals. However, they are all very specific to the genital region and cannot cause a wart anywhere else on the body. In short, plantar warts can’t spread to the genitals, and genital warts can’t spread to the foot.
Some differences between plantar and genital warts:
- Appearance: While plantar warts are flat, genital warts are raised and appear in clusters, with a cauliflower appearance on their surface.
- Location: Plantar warts are found on the bottom of the feet, while genital warts appear only on the genitals (the one exception being that genital warts can appear in the mouth of a person who received them through oral sex).
- Transmission: You cannot catch genital warts by walking on a moist surface like you can with plantar warts. Genital warts are spread primarily through sexual contact, while plantar warts have nothing to do with sexual activity.
The next time you get a plantar wart, don’t worry about it spreading around to the rest of your body. Choose a treatment option, don’t wait to take care of it, and take precautions in moist areas so that you can prevent more plantar warts in the future.