Photos of Plantar Warts on Feet

Is that rough circular patch on your foot something you need to worry about? It's hard to tell sometimes. Thus, it's important to be able to identify plantar warts. These growths are caused by a virus and usually need some kind of treatment—be it over the counter or from a doctor—to make them go away.

This article includes photos and detailed descriptions of plantar warts. It explains how to tell what's on your foot and what you can do to get rid of it.

What a Plantar Wart Looks Like

Wart on foot

Tim Oram / Getty Images

While warts on your hands and other parts of your body vary widely in appearance, plantar warts on your feet all pretty much look the same. Or, at least, they have the same basic characteristics even though they come in different sizes.

Common traits include:

  • Round: Because they are circular, they're sometimes mistaken for corns or calluses.
  • Flat: Other growths on the foot may be more raised.
  • Rough, tough outer layer: These warts are covered by the tough skin from the sole of your foot. They might also have a rough, grainy surface texture.
  • Little black dots near the center: This characteristic feature is the wart's blood supply.

Warts can occur singly or in clusters. In some cases they stay small, while other people might develop giant plantar warts. Most often, they appear on the heel or ball of your foot where you place your weight when standing or walking.

Warts vs. Calluses

Plantar warts are commonly mistaken for calluses. Calluses are thickened areas of skin that develop on parts of the foot that bear a lot of pressure or where the skin is constantly rubbing against a shoe or other material.

While at a glance they have similar appearances, warts have a few distinguishing features that calluses do not.

Wart
  • Breaks up the normal skin lines

  • Small black "seed" dot (capillary blood supply)

  • Painful when squeezed on the sides

Callus
  • Skin lines continue through the hard, dead skin

  • No dots, no blood supply

  • Painful when pushed on directly

If the circular patch is well-defined, interrupts the natural skin lines, and has a black dot at the center, it's not just a callus; it's a wart.

What Do Multiple Warts Look Like?

Plantar warts

Marionette / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which infects the epidermis (the upper layer of skin). Once the sole of your foot is infected with the virus, you can develop multiple warts.

Can Vaccines Prevent Plantar Warts?

Currently, there are HPV vaccines available to prevent against certain strains of the virus that cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Some researchers have found that some patients with plantar warts see their warts clear up after receiving the existing HPV vaccines.

However, not all people with plantar warts have these same results. More research is needed. 

Warts might be scattered around the foot in different spots. However, they can also appear grouped together as a cluster.

A cluster of warts is called a mosaic wart. A large cluster of warts can be very painful and make it uncomfortable to walk or run.

It's more difficult to treat a larger cluster, and it can take more time to eliminate all of them.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Plantar warts can go away on their own without treatment, or you might use an over-the-counter treatment to get rid of them more quickly. These treatments use salicylic acid to remove the layers of the wart slowly. Most people don't see a doctor for treatment unless these self-care efforts don't work.

However, in some instances, it's best to see your doctor immediately when you realize you have a wart. This is especially true if you have certain underlying conditions:

If you do try at-home treatments, watch the area for signs that you should see your doctor. If the wart changes appearance or color, if it is bleeding, or if you have multiple warts, you should call your doctor.

Your doctor may use a stronger preparation of salicylic acid to get rid of the wart. You may also receive cryotherapy, which involves applying liquid nitrogen to the wart to freeze it off.

Other treatment options that may be used include immune therapy, minor surgery, and laser treatment.

Summary

Being able to spot the common traits of a wart can help you start the right treatment right away. Look for the characteristic flat, rough circle with black "seeds" in the center.

You can use over-the-counter medication to get rid of the wart as long as you don’t have any serious underlying conditions. However, if the wart spreads or gets worse, see a doctor to have it removed professionally.

A Word from Verywell

Warts are unattractive and painful and sometimes very difficult to get rid of for good. The problem can be made worse if you treat a wart incorrectly, thinking it’s a callus or something else. Check the growth closely to be sure you know how to care for it. When in doubt, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there other types of warts?

    Yes, in addition to plantar warts, there are other types of warts. These other types include:

    • Common warts: Can appear as rough bumps on the fingers, near nails, and back of hands.
    • Flat warts: Can show up anywhere, but have a tendency in children to appear on the face. Men usually see them appear around the chin, and women usually see them on the legs.
    • Filiform warts: Look like thin, fleshy protrusions that usually appear around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Genital warts: These flesh-colored warts can be bumpy or flat and are located in the genital area.
  • How long does a plantar wart take to fall off after using salicylic acid?

    A plantar wart may take up to 12 weeks to fall off or disappear with the use of salicylic acid. This treatment removes the wart's outer layers to eventually reach the inner layer, so total length of time will depend on size of the wart.

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9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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