Plantar wart removal: How to remove plantar warts correctly

Man at pool is at risk for plantar warts

Warts are common, widespread, noncancerous growths. In fact, about 10% of all teenagers have plantar warts. These warts present themselves on the bottom or side of your foot. It isn’t unusual for them to disappear on their own, so if you have non-painful warts that don’t bother you, you may focus on preventing them from spreading rather than treating them. Unfortunately, not all of these growths clear up on their own, so you may find yourself struggling to figure out how to remove plantar warts.

If you have painful plantar warts, our team at Arizona Foot Doctors will work with you to clear them up. The following guide can help you understand the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of plantar warts.

The basics of plantar warts

Warts form due to a viral infection caused by a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Generally, they aren’t harmful, but they can cause pain and irritation. Warts are more commonly seen in children and teenagers than adults, but anyone can contract warts at any age. While plantar warts get their name from where they appear on the foot, they’re also found on the hands. When on the bottom of the foot, they show up as flat and hard spots that are commonly mistaken for calluses. When they’re on the upper side of the foot, they tend to have a more fleshy appearance.

Appearance of plantar warts

Warts are usually small, not often growing to more than the size of a pencil eraser. However, some may be bigger, while others may grow in clusters known as mosaic warts. Sometimes they resemble calluses or corns, which is why people often mistake a wart for a callus or corn.

If you see black dots in the growths, these are called seed warts. The black dots are blood vessels within the wart. Pressure on your feet from walking usually keeps plantar warts from appearing as raised as warts you find on your hands. The appearance alone may lead you to learn how to remove plantar warts.’

Diagnosis of plantar warts

When considering how to remove plantar warts, you should first consult a physician to find out what type of growth you have. The doctor will begin by examining the lesion and may cut it to check for the blood vessels mentioned above. If necessary, the doctor can remove a section for a laboratory to analyze it.

Young Boy with Plantar Wart on Foot

The causes of plantar warts

How do you get painful plantar warts? Plantar warts are contagious, and you can contract them when you come into contact with the virus. Sometimes, the transmission is indirect, such as sharing shoes or towels with someone who has a plantar wart. Other times, transmission is direct if an individual touches another wart. Plantar warts thrive in places with a warm and damp environment. For example, bath mats and community pools are higher-risk locations for contracting warts.

Risks of plantar warts

When it comes to HPV transmission, every person is different. Though you may come into contact with the virus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will contract warts. On the other hand, you could have family members that never develop warts even though you do. This condition is more likely to happen to:

  • Those with a history of plantar warts
  • Those who use locker rooms and public showers
  • Teenagers and children
  • Those with suppressed immune systems

Prevention of plantar warts

How do you treat plantar warts on the feet? The first step is prevention. There are ways to reduce your chances of developing painful plantar warts. First, avoid contact with other warts, including your own growths. If you touch your wart, you should wash your hands afterward.

Purchase shower shoes if you plan to go to public pools, locker rooms, or showers to prevent indirect contact with the virus. Regularly cleaning your bath mats and changing out your socks can prevent the spread of the virus. After cleaning your feet, make sure they’re dry before putting on socks and shoes so you don’t provide a damp environment for the warts to thrive in.

Bowlers sharing shoes have an increased risk of plantar warts

How to remove plantar warts

How do you remove plantar warts? There are a variety of ways to remove plantar warts. Some people choose to treat them at home with over-the-counter medication. Home remedies to remove plantar warts include nonprescription peeling medicine or freezing medicine. However, there are sterility and effectiveness concerns with any home method. When you want to know how to treat plantar warts on feet, the recommended treatment is to visit a doctor’s office. A podiatrist provides a safe, sterile environment and has the tools necessary to assess and safely remove your warts. Your podiatrist may also suggest the following treatments.


Cryotherapy is one of the most common ways to treat warts. The doctor applies liquid nitrogen via a swab or a spray. A blister then forms on the wart, and the dead tissue falls away within a week. You may have to go back to the doctor every two to four weeks to rid yourself of the growth completely.

Salicylic acid

While you can purchase salicylic acid over the counter, the prescription-strength is stronger and can remove a wart layer by layer. With this treatment, you may be treated in the office and follow up with applying medicine at home.


A doctor may use medications that stimulate your immune system to fight viral warts. For this treatment, you may receive an injection with an antigen, or the physician may apply a cream.

Laser treatment

Laser treatments cauterize tiny blood vessels. When you cut off the blood vessels supplying the wart, the tissue dies, and the wart subsequently falls off. This form of treatment needs upkeep about once every three to four weeks.

Trichloroacetic acid

There are other, stronger acids that your physician can apply to the growths. Physicians use wooden toothpicks to apply trichloroacetic acid. Once finished, you have to return for treatment approximately every week. You may also have to apply salicylic acid on your own afterward.

Let Arizona Foot Doctors assist you in removing plantar warts

While there are home remedies available for plantar warts, it’s always in your best interest to see a doctor. A podiatrist can diagnose and treat the growth and help you prevent future warts from springing up. Meet our team at Arizona Foot Doctors to get your feet healthy and to see how to remove painful plantar warts.