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Plantar warts

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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These are deep-seated, firm, hyperkeratotic lesions on the sole of the foot. They may be single or multiple and are involuted as pressure prevents their normal outward expansion. They are painful due to pressure on nerves.

  • commonly associated with human papilloma virus type 1 (HPV-1) and occasionally HPV-4
  • spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, or indirectly via contact with contaminated floors or surfaces (for example in swimming pools or communal washing areas)
  • infection is more likely to occur if the skin is damaged or wet
  • incubation period is thought to range from a few weeks to more than a year
  • will often resolve spontaneously:
    • in children approximately 50% will resolve with a year and one year and two thirds within two years
    • resolution is more protracted in adults and immunosuppressed patients

  • UK guidance states that (2) in order to prevent transmission:
    • verrucae should be covered in swimming pools, gymnasiums and changing rooms


  • Sterling, J.C. (2010) Virus infections. In: Burns, T., Breathnach, S., Cox, N. and Griffiths, C. (Eds.) Rook's textbook of dermatology. 8th edn. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. 33.1-33.81.
  • Public Health England. Guidance on Infection Control in Schools and other Childcare Settings (accessed 13/7/16).

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