How to Identify Common or Plantar Warts

If you find a bump on your skin or your child’s skin, do you know how to tell if it’s a wart? Common warts and plantar warts can look very different. 

Identifying Common vs. Plantar Warts

Some people think that any lump or wart on your foot is probably a plantar wart. Then, any wart found elsewhere on your body might be a common wart, right? Nope, it’s not that simple, but it’s not hard either. We’ll give you some quick tips so you’ll know how to identify common and plantar warts and, therefore, you’ll know how to treat them.

Common warts 

Common warts are typically found on fingers, hands, elbows, and knees but they can also sometimes appear on toes, arms, legs and even, occasionally, the face. These warts can be flesh colored or grayish-yellow with dark specks in them. These specks are not seeds—though they almost look like poppy seeds. They are actually dried blood from tiny clotted blood vessels, but nothing to worry about.

Common warts are round or oval with a bumpy, cauliflower-like surface. They are small—typically between 1 millimeter (mm) to 1 centimeter (cm) wide or larger—and, while they often occur as one wart, common warts can arise in groups. They are not always painful; however, that usually depends on their location. For example, if you have a wart on your finger on your dominant hand, the wart may become painful through contact with other items.

Because the virus that causes warts is contagious, common warts often appear in children and teens, especially those who play sports and share equipment or towels. It’s very easy to spread warts through close contact, which is why it’s important to treat and keep warts covered.

Plantar warts 

Plantar warts are recognized by their location on the bottom of your feet, sometimes on the underside of the toes. These warts can be tricky to identify because sometimes they grow inward and appear as a hard callous (hard skin) with a small hole where the wart grows into the foot. Some plantar warts grow outward as rough, skin-colored or white bumps, often in weight-bearing locations like the heel. Plantar warts can also grow in clusters and, when they do, are referred to as mosaic warts.

As you can guess, if you haven’t had one already, plantar warts can be painful, especially when standing, walking or running. Some people first notice their plantar wart because it feels like they have a small rock or pebble in their shoe. Most people develop plantar warts from being exposed to the virus that causes warts while walking barefoot in public locker rooms, showers, pools, gyms, or walking on floors or outdoors without shoes on. You can also get them from sharing sandals or flip-flops with friends or siblings who may unknowingly have a wart on their foot.

Since we’re talking about plantar warts, we should also mention palmar warts. Palmar warts are often caused by touching or picking at your own plantar wart. The warts appear similar to plantar warts but grow on the palms of the hands or fingers instead.

When We Recommend to See a Doctor for Common or Plantar Warts*

Whether you have a common wart or plantar wart, if it has not disappeared with treatment or is painful or in a spot where it gets frequent contact or causes discomfort, see a doctor for other treatment options. The last thing you want to do is suffer through pain.

You should also see a doctor if you have:

  • Diabetes, HIV/AIDS or any condition that weakens your immune system
  • Bleeding, oozing, swelling or redness around the wart
  • Multiple or recurring warts
  • A loss of sensation in the foot or heel with the plantar wart

Also, if you are unsure if the lump or growth you see is a wart, call your doctor to be safe. Skin growths can be difficult to identify, even with the information given here. Your doctor may simply suggest you send a photo of the suspected wart or skin growth to them and then advise from there.

Treating Common and Plantar Warts with Compound W®

Whether you have common or plantar warts, we have a number of products that can help make your wart go away. A reminder—none of these products should be used on your face, neck or genital area. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.

For removal of common warts, you can choose from topical gels and liquids, medicated bandages or freeze treatments that make the wart go away in fewer treatments. You can use most of these on plantar warts as well; however, we also have products specifically designed for plantar warts that are designed specifically for plantar warts and allows for easy and less painful treatment.

*This is for informational purposes only and it is not and should not be treated as medical advice