Skip to main content

Differences Between Common and Plantar Warts

By October 17, 2015May 9th, 2023Skin Care


A number of skin issues can erupt without warning, including warts. Plantar warts are a specific type of growth that occur only on the soles of the feet. Other types of growths are classified as common. These growths occur most often on the hands, but they can develop virtually anywhere on the body.


Human papilloma virus is the virus that causes both types of warts. Plantar warts grow and spread only on the bottoms of the feet. When HPV infects the skin, it infiltrates through the top layer. This usually happens at a break in the skin. After infection, the top layer of skin responds by growing excessively fast. This growth is what creates warts. It may take years for the skin to grow enough that you notice the development.


Appearances can vary somewhat, but growths usually have common traits. The growth may be bumpy and round or smooth and flat. Plantar warts typically remain flat against the skin and grow larger in diameter. The common variety also grows larger, but this type usually gets rounder and bigger. Sometimes the common type resembles cauliflower on the skin. They all have a blood supply that sustains them. Sometimes it’s possible to see these small blood vessels, because they appear as dark spots in the middle of the warts. Plantar warts may also have these darker spots.


I reassure my patients that most of these issues disappear on their own without treatment. Without warning, the growth will simply shrink and disappear. You could also use an over-the-counter medicine that contains salicylic acid to remove them. In the clinic, we can diagnose and then use a different treatment, such as cryotherapy, to remove the growth.

When patients are bothered, they should get a professional assessment to learn about removal options. Most treatments are simple and effective.

Thanks to Kai Hendry for the image used in this post