Plantar warts are painful growths on the bottom—heel, sole, or ball—of the foot. Warts are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) and can develop on their own or in clusters. Plantar warts often grow deep into the foot, are a common cause for foot pain, and can bleed if they are scraped.

The virus that causes plantar warts usually is transmitted by walking barefoot on a contaminated surface, such as a locker room floor or the deck of a swimming pool. Treatment for plantar warts is an important part of foot care and may include acid applications, surgical wart removal, cryotherapy, and laser treatments.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., podiatrist) about plantar warts. Print this page, check off the questions that concern you, and take it with you to your doctor's appointment. The more you know about plantar warts, the easier it will be to treat the warts and prevent the spread of HPV.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Plantar Warts

  • How might I have come in contact with the human papillomavirus?
  • How does HPV cause plantar warts?
  • Might I have transferred the virus to my foot from another part of my body?
  • Does HPV stay in the body for a long time? If so, is that harmful?
  • Will a sample of cells from the wart be removed for a pathologist to analyze?
  • If so, what does this procedure involve?
  • Who will explain the test results to me?
    Telephone number to call:
  • What types of treatment options are available?
  • Might my plantar warts go away without treatment?
  • Do you recommend treatment? Why or why not?
  • What kind of treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and side effects of this treatment?
  • Why shouldn't I use an over-the-counter medication to self-treat my plantar warts?
  • Might acid applications be helpful?
  • If so, what does this treatment involve and how frequently will I need these applications?
  • If acid applications are used, how long does it usually take for plantar warts to go away?
  • What do laser treatment procedures, cryotherapy, and curettage involve? Might these treatments be helpful?
  • Are these procedures painful?
  • What can I expect after undergoing these treatments?
  • Will I be able to walk normally?
    Restrictions:
  • What are my options if none of these treatments is successful?
  • How often should I follow up with a podiatrist after treatment?
  • How can I prevent contracting plantar warts in the future?
  • What kind of shoes do you recommend to protect my feet and avoid HPV infection?
  • Do open shoes, such as flip-flops or sandals, increase my risk for developing plantar warts?
  • When I check my feet or my children's feet for plantar warts, what should I look for?
  • How can I learn more about plantar warts?

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 13 May 2009

Last Modified: 19 Jul 2011