Cause and Risk Factors for Plantar Warts

Plantar warts can occur when HPV invades the body through tiny cuts or breaks in the skin on the bottom of the feet. The virus often is encountered on contaminated surfaces, such as the tile floors of public locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools. Normally, antibodies in the blood destroy HPV, but in some cases, it takes refuge in the skin and causes plantar warts.

Some people are more prone to the virus that causes plantar warts than other people. Risk factors include repeated HPV exposure (e.g., walking barefoot in public locker rooms and common bathing areas) and having a weakened immune system. In some cases, the virus can be transmitted to the feet from other areas of the body (called remote location seeding).

Publication Review By: J. Michael Lunsford, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2015