Not a Wart? Maybe It’s a Porokeratoma

April 26, 2022

If you have a hard, uncomfortable growth on the bottom of your foot, your first thought might be plantar warts. This kind of viral infection of the skin is common, especially in children and those with weak immune systems. However, not every growth on the sole of your foot is a wart.

Another possible cause for an uncomfortable foot growth is a porokeratoma, a type of small hard callus that can appear on the bottom of the foot or the side of the arch. These are sometimes called “seed corns” due to their appearance and small size. Because they can be hard to distinguish from warts, having a podiatrist examine your feet can help determine which condition you’re suffering from and devise the right treatment.

Identifying a Porokeratoma

What signs can help distinguish a porokeratoma from a plantar wart? A plantar wart typically looks like a circular spot of thick, callused skin—the pressure from standing or walking on it causes it to grow into the skin, rather than forming a raised bump as warts do on other parts of the body. Warts have a rough texture, with black dots near the center (these are the wart’s capillary blood supply). They also tend to be painful when squeezed on the sides, rather than when pressed directly.

A porokeratoma has slightly different features that can help differentiate it from a wart, although the differences can be somewhat subtle. Here’s what to check:

  • Is the growth smooth or rough? While a wart tends to be rough, a porokeratoma will usually feel hard and smooth.
  • How big is it? A porokeratoma is very small, often no larger than a sesame seed (thus the name “seed corn”). Warts, on the other hand, can be and often are larger.
  • Is it painful when you apply direct pressure? If the growth is on a weight-bearing part of your foot like the heel, do you experience the most discomfort when you put pressure on it directly? The pain from a porokeratoma can feel as though you have a splinter caught under the skin.

What Causes a Porokeratoma?

Unlike warts, which have a clear explanation, what causes a porokeratoma to form is not fully understood. In some cases, they can be caused by the blockage of a sweat gland with hard tissue. Given that there are over a quarter of a million of these glands on the sole of each foot, it’s not surprising that one or more of them might become blocked, leading to the painful development of porokeratoses. Other types may result from too much sun exposure.

A porokeratoma can feel more uncomfortable if you wear hard shoes that lack padding under the heel or that have thin soles. Going barefoot for an extended period of time can also make the condition more painful. Finally, if your heels don’t have much natural padding, you’re likely to feel greater pain from a porokeratoma than someone with more cushioned feet might.

Because porokeratoses are not caused by an infectious agent, you don’t have to worry about them spreading to other parts of your body, and they’re not a risk to your health. Still, they can make it painful to stand or walk. There’s no need to suffer, however. A podiatrist can safely remove a porokeratoma, either through mechanical means (scraping or cutting) or chemically (dissolving with a prescription-strength treatment). Once the growth is gone, the pain disappears as well.

Still Unsure What That Growth Is?

If you’re still not sure if that painful spot on your foot is a wart or a porokeratoma, schedule an appointment with the experienced podiatrists at Corona Foot & Ankle. We can give you a clear diagnosis for any growths on your feet and provide the appropriate treatment to remove them. We know there’s no such thing as a “minor” foot problem when pain is keeping you from doing the things you love. We’re here to provide the effective care you need to literally get you back on your feet again. To find out more about our services or to schedule an appointment, contact us here today.

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