Could This Be A Wart On My Foot?

Published: March 11, 2015
Dear Could This Be A Wart On My Foot?,

I think I have a wart on my foot. My friend said I probably got it from swimming because I'm on the swim team. Is that true? And what should I do?

Dear Could This Be A Wart On My Foot?,

If you have a wart on your foot it is most likely a plantar wart, a hard, grainy growth that usually appears on the heels or balls of your feet.

According to the Mayo Clinic, plantar wart signs and symptoms include:

  • A small, fleshy, rough, grainy growth (lesion) on the bottom of your foot

  • Hard, thickened skin (callus) over a well-defined "spot" on the skin, where a wart has grown inward

  • Black pinpoints, which are commonly called wart seeds but are actually small, clotted blood vessels

  • A lesion that interrupts the normal lines and ridges in the skin of your foot

  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing

Plantar warts are caused by an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the outer layer of the skin on the soles of the feet. While more than 100 types of HPV exist, only a few cause warts on the feet. The strains that cause plantar warts are not highly contagious, but they do live in warm, moist environments – such as around swimming pools and locker rooms. If you walk barefoot around pools and locker rooms, you may have more of a chance of contracting the virus. But the virus does need a way to get into the foot. This can be through cracks in dry skin, cuts, or even skin that has been softened from being in the water for a long time.

TeenHealthFX wouldn’t phrase it that you got the wart from swimming, itself. However, if swimming for a prolonged period of time softened your feet, and then you were walking barefoot around the pool, the locker room or showers in the locker room, you could have more easily contracted the virus.

As for what to do, since you don’t know for sure whether the growth on your foot is a wart, it would be advisable to check in with your doctor so you can be properly diagnosed. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should see your doctor for the lesion on your foot if:

  • The lesion is painful or changes in appearance or color

  • You've tried treating the wart, but it persists, multiplies or recurs

  • Your discomfort interferes with activities

  • You also have diabetes or poor sensation in your feet — in which case, you'll need treatment supervised by a doctor

  • You also have a weakened immune system because of immune-suppressing drugs, HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders

  • You aren't sure whether the lesion is a wart

If your doctor does determine you have a wart he/she may recommend over-the-counter medicines to be applied to the wart, prescription wart medication, or freezing therapy (which would be done at your doctor’s office). Your doctor will be able to make the best recommendation for you.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.