Skip to main content

Is it a Plantar Wart or a Callus?

Is it a Plantar Wart or a Callus?

The soles of your feet are leathery and tough, marked by rough patches or even areas that look like they’ve been sprinkled with black seeds. You think they’re just calluses and will go away on their own, but they don’t. Now the patches have started to hurt.

At Apple Podiatry Group, our expert team knows that any lesion on the bottom of your foot can cause you to change your gait and potentially lead to other problems in your foot and ankle. Here he offers a few insights into the difference between a pressure callus and plantar warts, how each affects the health of your feet, and what you can do about them. 

Calluses are thickened skin

Plantar warts and calluses look similar. Sometimes you can even develop a callus over a plantar wart. 

Calluses are caused by pressure on the weight-bearing parts of your foot. You tend to develop them on your heel or the ball underneath your foot bones. 

When you examine calluses, they look like thick, toughened areas of normal skin. The whorls and patterns of your healthy skin continue unbroken over the callus.

Most of the time, calluses don’t hurt. A callus is your skin’s way of protecting itself from injury due to constant rubbing from shoes or socks.

Calluses are usually not very painful, but if they grow large, they can be, especially when you press them directly. Large calluses can also change how you walk, which may throw your feet and legs out of alignment. Calluses usually go away on their own but can be a problem if you have diabetes or peripheral artery disease (PAD), which slows blood circulation to your feet and may prevent you from feeling pain if you injure your foot.

Plantar warts are an infection

Though plantar warts (aka plantar verrucae) often look like tough, raised patches on your skin and may coincide with calluses, an infection causes them with a variant of the human papillomavirus (HPV). As with other types of HPV infections, you contract it through your skin. In the case of plantar warts, you can be exposed to HPV while walking barefoot in:

The HPV enters your feet through tiny breaks, cuts, or weak spots in the plantar region, which is the sole of your foot. You can even get HPV by stepping on a bathmat used by someone with plantar warts or by using their socks or towels. Plantar warts grow in moist, warm environments, so they can multiply quickly if you don’t keep your feet clean and dry.

In contrast to calluses, plantar warts don’t look like your typical, toughened skin on close inspection. Instead of running through the lesion — as in a callus — your skin lines go around the wart. Plantar warts also tend to have distinct borders, whereas calluses have diffuse borders that blend in with unaffected skin.

A giveaway sign that the tough patch on your sole is a plantar wart is the presence of dark spots, sometimes called seeds. These tiny dots are small blood vessels the wart produces for nourishment. Not all plantar warts have seeds, however.

Treating calluses and plantar warts

Most calluses and plantar warts go away independently, but plantar warts can spread to other parts of your feet if not treated. Don’t try to shave a callus or plantar wart yourself because you could seriously injure your foot and cause an infection. 

Soak your calluses and warts in a warm foot bath to help soften them, then buff away the excess skin with a pumice stone. Be sure to use a separate foot bath and pumice stone on your warts so that you don’t spread them to healthy skin. Apply moisturizer to the bottoms of your feet to keep the skin soft and pliable.  

You might also try over-the-counter medications with salicylic acid to slough off the warts gradually. Salicylic acid also stimulates your immune system to protect against future warts.

Switch to shoes that give your toes and feet room to breathe. Even over-the-counter shoe inserts can take some pressure off the soles of your feet to help prevent new calluses, allow your current callus to heal, or relieve the pain of plantar warts. 

If your callus or plantar warts are very painful, change the way you walk, or start to bleed, contact Dr. Frazier. He treats plantar warts with salicylic acid, cryotherapy, a pulsed-dye laser, or antiviral medications.

Get smooth, healthy feet again with callus and plantar wart treatments. Call the Apple Podiatry Group today, or click online to schedule a visit at your nearest office location in Arlington, Irving, Fort Worth, or Flower Mound, Texas.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Custom Orthotics Can Relieve Back Pain

You know that customized orthotics ease foot pain, but did you know that they help back pain, too? Misalignments in your feet can throw off your gait and balance, putting pressure on your back. Orthotics set things straight.

Why is Plantar Fasciitis More Common in Summer?

As the thermometer rises, so does your chance of developing plantar fasciitis. Read on to learn why this painful foot condition is more prevalent during the summer and what you can do to protect your feet.

The Health Hazards of Going Barefoot

Pool and backyard fun often includes going barefoot. But when your tootsies are exposed to the elements, you need to be cautious of the health hazards that lie underfoot. Read on to learn what these are.

Getting Back on Your Feet After an Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains typically heal within about 2-3 weeks with proper medical care. Without the right care, healing can take longer — and you might have problems in the future. Here’s what you can do to support a full recovery.

What to Expect During and After Nail Restoration

When your nail suffers trauma, fungal infection, or is pitted, you may suffer discomfort and embarrassment. Nail restoration with the KeryFlex® system strengthens your nail and repairs defects so you can flaunt your toes with pride. Here’s how.