What are the different kinds of plantar warts?

Dirty, troublesome, embarrassing… there is no shortage of terms used to describe plantar warts. However, even if we would like to be able to ignore them, it is more important to treat them as quickly as possible.

Warts are a skin growth caused by the HPV (human papilloma virus). 

Although prevalent in children, they occur less frequently in adults.

It is not uncommon to confuse warts with other dermatological problems such as corns or calluses

This is a concern, because warts must be treated differently from other plantar skin disorders.

Let’s explore what distinguishes the different types of plantar warts and the treatments to consider to prevent them from coming back to haunt you.


What exactly is a plantar wart?


Unlike corns or calluses, plantar warts are not caused by skin abrasion. It is virus-based, and is found mainly in the forefoot area, around the toes and under the nails. 

The virus that causes warts is usually found in public places where people walk without shoes, such as swimming pools or changing rooms.

While not all warts are painful at first, some untreated warts can potentially become painful. 


Single plantar wart (myrmecia)


Single plantar warts develop more commonly following prolonged contact with the virus.

After an incubation period of a few months, viral growth is likely to appear.

Myrmecia can be identified by certain specific features:

  • A fairly deep lesion
  • A horn ring forms and encircles the wart
  • A series of small black spots is present in its center (blood vessels)
  • Pain while walking
  • Episodic bleeding

The single wart is just as contagious as its counterparts, especially if scratched. 

While generally harmless, the single plantar wart is still subject to complications if left untreated.

Here are some of the signs that may indicate a complication:

  • The wart reappears sporadically
  • Redness around the wart lesion
  • Spreading to other areas of the foot or leg
  • Joint pain caused by poor posture while walking
  • Spreading under the toenails


Mosaic plantar warts (multiple warts)


Mosaic warts are less common than myrmecia warts, and cause much less discomfort than the latter.

Although often confused with calluses, mosaic warts have a distinct appearance.

They can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Located on the outermost layer of the skin
  • Divided into several skin patches that sometimes look like mosaics
  • Extends over a wide area of the sole of the foot
  • Not very painful

Just because mosaic warts are not too uncomfortable does not mean that you should hesitate to consult a podiatrist


Treat plantar warts effectively


Since this pathology is relatively straightforward, homemade treatments are generally effective.

However, you should not forget to include help from your podiatrist and their diagnosis.

The following remedies can help you manage plantar warts at home:

  • The application of over-the-counter salicylic acid products
  • The use of cryotherapy (except for people with diabetes)


When should you seek the advice of a foot care professional?


Whether to treat pain or to rule out the risk of skin cancer, the podiatrist is a specialist in the management of plantar warts.

Generally, the therapeutic methods used by the podiatrist include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Cantharone Plus in topical format
  • Bleomycin sulfate injection
  • Laser treatment
  • Minor surgery to remove resistant warts

If your plantar wart causes severe pain or is slow to heal, call upon the services of a podiatrist.

Your podiatrist will be able to diagnose the problem and provide you with an effective and personalized treatment plan.