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Why Do I Get Warts On My Feet? Causes & Treatments

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Do the small, rough bumps that appear on your feet drive you crazy? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many people wonder why they suddenly find themselves dealing with warts on their feet. In this article, we will delve into the causes behind these pesky little growths and what you can do to get rid of them. Warts on the feet, also known as plantar warts, are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus enters the skin through tiny cuts or abrasions and causes the skin cells to multiply rapidly, resulting in the development of warts. While anyone can get plantar warts, they are more common in children, athletes, and individuals with weak immune systems. In addition to understanding the causes of foot warts, it's important to know that they can be contagious. They can spread through direct contact with an infected person or by touching surfaces that have been contaminated. If you're wondering how to get rid of these uninvited guests, fear not. We will also discuss effective treatment options ranging from over-the-counter remedies to professional medical procedures. Say goodbye to foot warts and get back to enjoying smooth and healthy feet! Stay tuned for our helpful tips and insights.

Causes & Risk Factors Of Foot Warts

Foot warts, those pesky rough bumps on your soles or toes, are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). While there are over 100 strains of HPV, only a few specific types target the skin on the feet. This virus enters the body through tiny cuts or breaks in the skin, making areas with frequent friction, like the soles and heels, prime targets.


Certain factors can increase your susceptibility to developing foot warts. Walking barefoot in moist environments like public pools or locker rooms is a common risk factor, as the virus thrives in these warm, damp conditions. A weakened immune system, either from illness or medication, can also make you more susceptible to HPV infection. Additionally, children and teenagers are generally more prone to warts than adults due to their still-developing immune systems.

Types Of Foot Warts

While all foot warts are caused by HPV, they can manifest in slightly different ways depending on the specific strain and location. Here's a breakdown of the most common types:


  • Plantar warts: These are the most frequent type of foot wart, appearing on the weight-bearing areas of your soles. They often grow inward due to pressure, making them feel rough and grainy when you walk. Plantar warts can be singular or appear in clusters, and while typically painless, they can cause discomfort with prolonged pressure.


  • Mosaic warts: These cluster warts, often appearing on the balls of your feet or between your toes, resemble a mosaic pattern. They're typically flat and smaller than plantar warts, but can still be bothersome due to their location.


  • Periungual warts: These stubborn warts grow under or around your toenails, often distorting the nail and potentially causing pain. They can be particularly difficult to treat due to their location.

Foot Warts

Symptoms & Diagnosis Of Foot Warts

Foot warts might not scream for attention, but there are telltale signs that they've taken up residence on your soles. The most common symptom is the presence of a small, rough bump on your foot, typically on the weight-bearing areas or between the toes. These bumps may be flesh-toned or have a slightly darker appearance.


While some warts may cause no discomfort, plantar warts, which grow inward, can feel tender or painful when you walk or put pressure on them. Periungual warts, located around the toenails, can distort the nail and cause additional discomfort. If you suspect a wart, it's important to see a podiatrist or dermatologist for proper diagnosis.


Diagnosing foot warts is usually a straightforward process. Doctors can typically identify them based on their appearance and location. In some cases, a podiatrist may use a tool called a dermatoscope for a closer look or perform a simple biopsy, where a small tissue sample is extracted and examined under a microscope. This is usually only necessary if the wart has an unusual appearance or doesn't respond to typical treatments. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing the spread of warts and ensuring a successful outcome.

Home Remedies For Treating Foot Warts

While the internet brims with home remedies for foot warts, it's important to approach these with caution. Many involve harsh substances like salicylic acid or duct tape, which can irritate healthy skin around the wart. Additionally, some home remedies, like applying apple cider vinegar or soaking in bleach, lack scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.


While soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts might offer temporary relief, it won't eliminate the wart itself. Furthermore, attempting to pick or cut off a wart can worsen the infection and lead to scarring. The best course of action is to consult a podiatrist or dermatologist. They can offer safe and effective treatment options tailored to your specific type of wart, helping you banish those unwanted hitchhikers for good.

Over-The-Counter Treatments For Foot Warts

While not a guaranteed cure, over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be a starting point in your fight against foot warts. These products typically contain salicylic acid, an ingredient that works by gradually breaking down the wart layer by layer. Salicylic acid comes in various forms like gels, liquids, and medicated pads.


OTC treatments require consistent application, often daily for several weeks, to see results. Keep in mind that these products can irritate the surrounding skin, so strict adherence to the directions is crucial. Additionally, OTC options may not be effective for all types of warts, particularly those located around the toes or nails.


If you choose the OTC route, be patient and diligent with application. However, if you experience significant discomfort, no improvement after several weeks, or suspect the wart might be something else, consult a podiatrist or dermatologist. They can provide a definitive diagnosis and explore more targeted treatment options to get rid of your foot warts for good.

Treatments for foot warts

Medical Treatments For Foot Warts

If home remedies and OTC medications haven't banished your stubborn foot warts, it's time to explore professional treatment options offered by a podiatrist or dermatologist. These in-office procedures are typically safe and effective, offering a more targeted approach to eliminating the wart.


Here are some common medical treatments for foot warts:


  • Cryotherapy: This freezing technique involves applying liquid nitrogen to the wart. The extreme cold destroys the wart tissue, which eventually dries up and falls off. Cryotherapy may require multiple sessions depending on the size and thickness of the wart.


  • Cantharidin: This blistering agent is painted on the wart, causing a small blister to form underneath. After a few days, the dead wart tissue can be removed by a podiatrist.


  • Laser Treatment: Pulsed-dye lasers can target the wart's blood vessels, effectively cutting off its blood supply and causing it to die. This treatment is often used for warts that haven't responded to other methods.


  • Minor Surgery: In some cases, particularly for periungual warts, a podiatrist may recommend surgical removal. This is a quick procedure performed under local anesthetic to remove the wart tissue.

Prevention Of Foot Warts

While foot warts are a common nuisance, the good news is there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of encountering them. Here's how to keep those unwanted hitchhikers off your feet:


  • Mind Your Footwear: Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like locker rooms, swimming pools, or communal showers. Wear sandals or flip-flops to protect your feet from potential HPV exposure in these moist environments. Keep your shoes clean and dry, and alternate pairs to allow them to air out properly.


  • Healthy Habits: Maintain good foot hygiene by washing your feet daily with soap and water, paying particular attention to the spaces between your toes. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially after showering or swimming. A healthy immune system is your best defense against HPV infection, so prioritize a balanced diet and adequate sleep.


  • Don't Share Personal Items: Refrain from sharing towels, socks, or shoes with others. This can be an easy way to unknowingly transmit HPV. Additionally, avoid picking at existing warts, as this can spread the virus to other parts of your foot.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

While Bilt Labs custom orthotics aren't a direct treatment for foot warts caused by HPV, they can play a supportive role in managing discomfort and preventing future occurrences. Here's how:


  • Pressure Redistribution: Plantar warts, the most common type, often grow on weight-bearing areas of your foot. Bilt Labs orthotics utilize pressure mapping technology to create insoles that distribute pressure more evenly across your entire foot. This can help reduce the concentrated pressure on existing warts, offering some relief from discomfort.


  • Friction Reduction: Friction is a known irritant for warts, and ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate this issue. Bilt Labs orthotics provide a customized fit that cradles your foot and minimizes friction within your footwear. This can create a more comfortable environment for your feet and potentially help prevent the formation of new warts caused by rubbing or irritation.


  • Improved Biomechanics: Flat feet or overpronation can contribute to abnormal pressure distribution on your feet. Bilt Labs orthotics can address these biomechanical imbalances by incorporating features like arch support and medial posting. This promotes proper foot alignment and reduces stress on your entire foot structure, potentially creating a less hospitable environment for warts to thrive.


It's important to note that Bilt Labs custom orthotics shouldn't be considered a primary treatment for foot warts. Consulting a podiatrist or dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial. However, by offering pressure relief, friction reduction, and improved biomechanics, Bilt Labs orthotics can be a valuable addition to your overall foot care routine, potentially aiding in wart management and promoting overall foot health.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Conclusion

Foot warts, while bothersome, are a treatable condition. By understanding the causes, like the human papillomavirus (HPV), and recognizing the different types, you can be proactive in preventing their spread. Remember, maintaining good foot hygiene, avoiding moist environments barefoot, and prioritizing a healthy immune system are your best defenses. If you do suspect a wart, consulting a podiatrist or dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment is the recommended course of action. With early intervention and proper care, you can banish those unwanted hitchhikers and keep your feet happy and healthy. Take our free quiz today to find out which orthotic type is best for your feet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health. If you have any questions about your health or are experiencing any medical problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately. Do not delay seeking medical attention based on the information provided in this article.