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When to Seek Help for Warts on Your Feet

When to Seek Help for Warts on Your Feet

You may have heard that you can get warts from touching toads, but that’s not true. Warts are the result of an infection from certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that produces noncancerous growths in the topmost layer of your skin. 

Warts are classified by where they’re located on the body — palmar warts on your hands and plantar warts on the soles of your feet.

HPV enters the skin through small cuts in your soles, and your body weight causes the skin above the entry point to become thick and callused. Plantar warts can cause minor irritation or pain and perhaps a little bleeding, but they’re not inherently harmful.

If your warts do cause you pain, you may alter the way you stand and walk, leading to problems with your body mechanics that can become serious.

At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Robert Sheffey and our team know that although about 14% of Americans develop plantar warts every year, many don’t get the care they need because they don’t recognize the symptoms. 

Here’s what we want you to know about warts in general, and when you need to seek medical help.

Wait, aren’t HPV infections dangerous?

The strains of HPV that cause plantar warts aren’t the ones that cause genital warts. They’re not highly contagious nor easily transmitted from person to person. In fact, if you come into contact with the virus, you don’t necessarily develop warts.

But it’s still best to decrease your risk of infection. HPV thrives in warm, moist environments like swimming pools and locker rooms. Walking barefoot puts you more at risk of picking up the virus. And while anyone of any age can develop plantar warts, they’re most common in:

If left untreated, plantar warts can spread and develop into wart clusters.

Symptoms of plantar warts

Common symptoms you may experience include:

If you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms, it’s time to seek medical help.

Treating warts on your feet

Many warts clear up on their own, but it may be over the course of a year or two. If you’re experiencing symptoms, you may want to have the warts removed. 

There are any number of home remedies that may or may not work, but your best bet is to let us remove them. Here are some of your options.


We apply a topical solution like salicylic acid that helps you shed the infected skin layers. It’s an incremental treatment, and it often works best in combination with cryotherapy.

Freezing (cryotherapy)

We apply topical liquid nitrogen to the wart, which freezes it. You generally shed the dead skin layers in the next few days.


Carbon dioxide laser cautery is a minor surgical procedure that excises warts cleanly and with minimal scarring. 

Intralesional immunotherapy

We inject immunotherapy agents such as zinc sulfate or vitamin D3 directly into your plantar warts. The injection stimulates your immune system to kill the virus and destroy the wart.

Custom orthotics

If you have recurrent warts, we can recommend preventive measures such as custom orthotics, special shoe inserts custom-made to fit your feet. They cushion your foot’s weight-bearing areas and alleviate plantar wart-related pain.

Are you dealing with warts on your feet and want to get rid of them? Come into Chicagoland Foot and Ankle to let us give them the attention they need. 

Call any of our locations or book your appointment online today. We have offices in the Mount Greenwood and Portage Park areas of Chicago, and in Orland Park and New Lenox, Illinois.

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