Warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of the foot that can be quite painful.
They are caused by a virus and can appear anywhere on the skin. Those that
appear on the sole of the foot are called plantar warts. Children, especially
teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults. Some people seem to
be immune to warts.
The virus that causes warts generally invades the skin through small or invisible
cuts and abrasions. The plantar wart is often contracted by walking barefoot on
dirty surfaces or littered ground where the virus is lurking. The causative virus
thrives in warm, moist environments, making infection a common occurrence in
communal bathing facilities.
If left untreated, warts can grow to an inch or more in circumference and can
spread into clusters of several warts; these are often called mosaic warts. Like any
other infectious lesion, plantar warts are spread by touching, scratching,
or even by contact with skin shed from another wart. The wart may also bleed,
creating another route for spreading.
Occasionally, warts can spontaneously disappear after a short time, and, just as
frequently, they can recur in the same location.
Most warts are harmless, even though they may be painful. They are often
mistaken for corns or calluses, which are layers of dead skin that build up to
protect an area which is being continuously irritated. The wart, however, is a viral
Plantar warts tend to be hard and flat, with a rough surface and well-defined
boundaries; warts are generally raised and fleshier when they appear on the top of
the foot or on the toes. Plantar warts are often gray or brown (but the color
may vary), with a center that appears as one or more pinpoints of black. It is
important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency
When plantar warts develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot, the ball of
the foot, or the heel, for example, they can be the source of sharp, burning pain.
Pain occurs when weight is brought to bear directly on the wart, although
pressure on the side of a wart can create equally intense pain.