Plantar warts, also known as verrucae warts, are a skin growth caused by some types of the virus called HPV (human papillomavirus). They can look like a small cauliflower or a solid blister.
They most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and seniors.
There are 2 types of plantar warts:
- mosaic warts – they are a cluster of a few small warts growing closely together in a part of your foot;
- solitary wart – it is a single wart. It may eventually multiply.
Common signs and symptoms include:
- tenderness or pain when standing or walking;
- a lesion which interrupts the normal ridges and lines in the skin of the foot;
- a small, rough, grainy growth on the bottom of your foot.
Untreated, plant warts can grow to reach 1 to 2 inches in diameter and spread to the other foot.
Warts are caused by an infection of the skin by HPV (human papillomavirus), that is the most common viral infection of the skin. HPV typically enters the body in an area of broken skin.
Factors which may increase your chance of plantar warts include:
- skin inflammation (eczema);
- immunosuppressive medications;
- HIV infection;
- exposing your feet to unsanitary surfaces.
Most warts clear up without treatment. It can take several weeks to even a few years, depending on the number and location of warts.
However, if you have warts which are spreading or painful, your treatment choices include:
- removing the wart with surgery (curettage, electrosurgery, laser surgery);
- alternative treatments, like essential oils;
- freezing the wart (cryotherapy);
- salicylic acid cream, a topical cream which can burn off the wart. Treatment is typically most convenient at bed-time and should be done daily for at least four months;
- putting a stronger medicine on the wart.
Prevention methods to avoid plantar warts include:
- washing your hands frequently;
- keeping the wart covered;
- changing your shoes and socks daily, especially if you already have a plant wart;
- covering your feet in shared community spaces, like – locker rooms, pools, or dorms.
They are small circles of thick skin which commonly develop on the sole of the foot or on the sides and tops of toes. They usually form as a result of pressure or friction on the skin.
Females are more likely than males to develop corns on their feet.
There are three types of foot corns:
- soft corns – they are softer since the sweat between the toes keeps them moist. They most typically form between the 4th and 5th toes;
- hard corns – they usually occur on the outer side of the little toe or on the top of the smaller toes;
- seed corns – they are tiny corns grouped together. Seed corns are more frequently located on the heel or balls of your feet and are extremely tender. In addition, they appear as a dense hill of dead skin and are very painful.
You may have foot corns if you experience the following symptoms:
- pain when wearing shoes;
- skin which is sensitive to touch;
- tough, rough, yellowing patch of bumpy or lumpy skin.
Corns which are not treated will become painful.
They may be caused by an odd way of walking, repeated pressure due to sports, or a bone structure (like – flat feet). In addition, they usually form on the bumps caused by rheumatoid arthritis, or on bunions or mallet toes.
The following risk factors are linked to a higher incidence of foot corns:
- older age, as there is less fatty tissue in the skin;
- repeated actions, like walking or jogging in a particular way;
- anything which causes friction or pressure on the skin;
- wearing high-heeled shoes (they can squeeze the toes);
- walking barefoot regularly;
- wearing no socks;
- wearing socks which do not fit well;
- a badly placed seam in a shoe which rubs against the skin;
- wearing shoes which are too loose (this can allow your foot to slide and rub);
- wearing shoes which are too high-heeled or too tight, causing pressure.
To help reduce the size of a foot corn, gently rub the corn with a pumice stone or washcloth while bathing.
Note – Salicylic acid is the ingredient used in most foot corns removal products (if you have diabetes, do not use these products without consulting your healthcare provider). Unless the pressure which caused them is taken away, foot corns will not come right on their own.
When To Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if a corn becomes inflamed or infected.
These approaches may help you prevent foot corns:
- try padding your tool handles with covers or cloth tape;
- wear padded gloves when using hand tools;
- use some lamb’s wool or toe separators between your toes;
- wear felt pads or bandages over areas which rub against your footwear;
- wear shoes which give your toes plenty of room.
Bottom Line – Plantar Warts vs Corns
Plantar warts are small growths which typically appear on the heels or other weight-bearing areas of the feet. They can be flesh-colored, tan, white, or pink, nevertheless, they are commonly brown or gray, according to The American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine (ACFAOM).
Plantar warts are caused by the HPV which can be contracted by walking barefoot on unsanitary surfaces.
Foot corns are hardened layers of skin which occur from your skin’s response to pressure and friction. They occur at pressure points, usually the sides of toes or the bottom of the feet. They are not contagious or infectious.
One of the main differences between a foot corn and a plantar wart is that the surface of a foot corn is hard and thick without black dots beneath the surface, whereas a plantar wart is identified by a crusty and dry surface of the skin with small black dots deep below.
Additionally, plants warts are caused by a virus, while foot corns are caused by pressure and friction on the skin.