Plantar Warts and HPV
by Margaret DiGaetano MD*
- The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is the virus that causes plantar warts.
- Different types of HPV are associated with warts in typical anatomic locations, such as plantar warts (feet), common warts (e.g. warts on hands, fingers), flat warts (e.g. hands, face) or genital warts (genitals).
- Both plantar warts and Human Papillomavirus are very common.
- There have been over 100 different types of HPV identified, and plantar wart are often caused by type 1, 2, and 4.
- Most people will have an Human Papillomavirus infection at some point in their lives, either on the skin (e.g. plantar warts), or on mucous membranes (e.g. genital warts), but infection with HPV does not always cause a wart or other visible disease.
- Most of the conditions caused by HPV, such as common warts and plantar warts, are not usually a serious health issue. However, certain types of HPV infection may be associated with premalignant or malignant conditions, such as cervical cancer.
HPV and Plantar Wart Treatment
There is no specific anti-HPV treatment that will cure HPV infections, including plantar warts. HPV infections and plantar warts are cured by either:
- Removing the wart tissue that contains the HPV wart virus,
- Stimulating the body’s immune system to get rid of HPV infection,
- Or both.
The immune system plays a large role in eliminating HPV in plantar wart treatment. Destroying plantar wart cells exposes HPV to the body’s immune system so that it can eliminate it. This explains why treating one plantar wart can sometimes result in all plantar warts going away.
Salicylic acid destroys and removes HPV infected plantar wart cells. Three recently published review articles of wart treatment studies concluded that the only topical wart remover for which there is strong scientific evidence showing that it is effective in removing warts is salicylic acid.
*WartStick® is a salicylic acid wart remover for plantar and common warts. The author’s family is the only and original manufacturer of WartStick®. The author is not giving medical advice.
Efficacy of topical treatments for cutaneous warts: a meta-analysis and pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. Kwok CS, Holland R, Gibbs S. Br J Dermatol. 2011 Jan 11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10218.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Warts (non-genital). King-fan Steven L, Yuk-ming William T. Clin Evid (Online). 2009;09:1710.
Topical treatments for cutaneous warts. Gibbs S, Harvey I. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2006, Issue 3. Art. No.:CD001781.
Bolognia JL. 2007 Dermatology 2nd edition. Mosby. 2007.
Habif TP. 2010. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th edition. Mosby Elevier. P 454-464.
Mansur CP. 2002 Human Papillomaviruses. In: Tyring TK, editor. Mucocutaneous Manifestations of Viral Diseases. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. p. 247-294.