The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Seek & Destroy: How to Identify, Treat, and Eliminate Stubborn Plantar Warts

Posted by on Thursday, March 27th, 2014


I was so embarrassed when a pedicurist told me I had a wart on my heel. For months, I thought I just had a callus there! “You can tell a wart from a callus by looking very carefully at the spot to notice tiny black dots inside the raised white area. These are the spores,” explained Dr. Piccolo.

After a few months of treatment with salicylic acid, I still wasn’t sure if it was gone or not. “Looks great!” the doctor told me. But it didn’t look great to me. I later learned that there may always be a spot of mangled skin on my foot from where the acid burned my skin to kill the wart. Maybe, eventually, dead skin will be replaced by healthy skin. This whole experience made me realize that there is a lot to learn about plantar warts!

Plantar wart
Plantar warts are not always easy to distinguish from a blister, corn, or callus.
Image Source: A.D.A.M. via

What Are Plantar Warts?

A wart is a small rough bump on the skin caused by a type of human papillomavirus. On most parts of the body, warts resemble cauliflower. However, a Plantar wart on the foot can be compressed and stamped down with the pressure of walking until it looks like any other callus — except for the black spores. Honestly, they can be easy to miss unless you have a magnifying glass and a mirror. Touching a wart may feel like sandpaper rubbing on your finger and you may feel as though a foreign body is pressing down into your foot.

Stephen S. Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, says that bacteria, fungi, and viruses (like the one that leads to Plantar warts) are naturally found in soil, but can attach themselves to shoes and make their way inside our homes. From there, the virus relies on direct skin contact and a skin lesion to get inside the body.

How Are Plantar Warts Treated?

The wart virus cannot be cured, so the wart itself can be difficult to get rid of. Half of all warts will disappear within a few months with or without treatment, but they can reoccur later on if the entire wart is not removed at the root.

A salicylic acid preparation is usually the first line of treatment. This treatment may come in the form of drops, gels, pads, or creams. The medication works by dissolving the protein that makes up the wart. Some irritation may occur with this type of treatment, and it is not recommended for patients with diabetes or poor circulation.

Another method of treatment involves freezing the wart. Non-prescription aerosol wart treatments that freeze a wart at – 70 degrees Fahrenheit may work. Podiatrists use liquid nitrogen to freeze warts at – 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some patients have tried covering the wart with duct tape. With this treatment, you can only remove the tape once a week for a few hours. You will need to frequently replace the tape.

Stubborn warts may need to be surgically removed or treated with antiviral medication, says KSL News.

wart duct tape
Some people try treating their Plantar wart by covering it with duct tape.
Image Source:

Need a NY Podiatrist for Your Plantar Wart?

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has offices in Manhattan and White Plains, New York. Our offices are equipped to handle everything from Plantar warts, athlete’s foot and bunions, to plantar fasciitis, neuromas and ankle fractures.

We are currently booking new appointments without a lot of lead time. For you convenience, you may book your appointment online or by phone at (212) 996-1900 (111 East 88th St., Manhattan) or (914) 328-3400 (10 Mitchell Place, Suite 105, White Plains).


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.