Plantar Warts: When Your Feet Go Viral


Sometimes an idea, a video, or an image goes viral and spreads like wildfire across social media and the Internet. When computers themselves are “infected” by “viruses,” the inner workings are threatened and can malfunction, causing loss of data and corrupted files. Fortunately, when your feet go viral, we are usually talking about something far less serious, such as plantar warts. Though these small infections on your foot can be annoying, they are not life-threatening.

HPV and Your Skin

Plantar warts occur on the bottom (plantar) side of your foot. They are caused by one of the many strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus invades the upper layer of your skin through any tiny break from a cut or scrape. As it starts to grow, skin turns hard and rough. The small patches may have tiny black dots in the center. These are the ends of tiny capillaries in your feet—the dark spots are dried blood.

The warts usually form in areas of pressure, such as the ball of your foot or your heel. That may be because these are the points that most often come into contact with the ground and pick up the virus from the surface. You can have just one small spot, or a group of several, called a mosaic wart. Sometimes pressure will force the wart deeper into the skin and a callus forms over it. If you look at it closely, you will see the normal lines of your skin look wavy around the perimeter of the spot.

Who’s at Risk?

Anyone can get this infection, but the risk is greater for children and teenagers, possibly because they are more likely to walk barefoot in public places. People who have had one in the past, or those with weakened immune systems, are more likely to get plantar warts again.

These infections are contagious. You can pick up the virus from contact with an infected person or with the surfaces they touch. That’s why wearing foot protection in public pools, showers and gyms helps head off a problem. Also, your immune system is important: you may fight off the infection while someone else may not.

Of course, good hygiene habits also help, like keeping your feet clean and dry, not picking at the wart, and not sharing tools used to treat them—with others or even on other parts of your body.

Duct Tape for Warts? Let Us Treat Them Instead!

Plantar warts may go away on their own without treatment, although it could take a couple of years for them to totally disappear. There are plenty of home remedies people have come up with to shorten the time, like putting duct tape on them, or using products from the pharmacy. Sometimes these work, often they do not.

If you have this lesion on your foot and it makes standing or walking uncomfortable, come and see the experts at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center. We can use liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy to remove them, as well as laser treatments to kill the virus without harming healthy skin. Warts can also be removed surgically. We can do it all. Just give us a call at (303) 423-2520 to schedule an appointment at one of our Denver area offices. You can also request an appointment on our website.

Photo Credit: How Soon Ngu via

Our Locations

Choose your preferred location