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

to reoccur.

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.