Witchey DJ, Witchey NB, Roth-Kauffman MM, Kauffman MK. Plantar Warts: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Management. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2018;118(2):92–105. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2018.024.
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Verrucae plantaris (plantar warts) are common cutaneous lesions of the plantar aspect of the foot that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Ubiquitous in our environment, asymptomatic infection with HPV occurs frequently, with most infections controlled or cleared by cellular and humoral immune responses. However, certain populations have been observed to manifest plantar warts at higher rates compared with the general population, placing them at increased risk for wart-induced pain and complications. Plantar warts shed HPV, which can then infect other sites in the plantar region or spread to other people. Although controlling risk factors is useful in preventing infection, the pervasive nature of HPV makes these preventive measures frequently impractical. This literature review outlines the current knowledge regarding the relationship between plantar wart pathophysiology, HPV transmission, and epidemiologic characteristics. Given the high propensity for treatment resistance of plantar warts and no established, practical, and reliable method of prevention, HPV prophylaxis for populations that demonstrate high rates of plantar warts may be of benefit in controlling the spread of lesions.
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