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What are Mosaic Warts?

By James Franklin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Mosaic warts are clusters of plantar-type warts commonly found on the feet, although they might also be found on the hands or other areas of the body. Plantar warts are caused by a virus and can occur singly or in mosaic-like groups called plaques. These types of warts are considered benign tumors. Mosaic warts can disappear without treatment, although many people seek medical help because the condition can cause pain and discomfort, particularly if the warts continue to spread.

Mosaic warts are caused by a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that most often enters the body through the the skin. There are more than 100 strains of the papillomavirus, the more harmful of which can cause genital warts and cancers of the cervix, genitals and anus. HPV 1 is known to cause mosaic and plantar warts.

HPV 1 can live for several months on wet surfaces without a host. The virus enters the host though small cuts or abrasions on the feet. Dry and cracked feet are especially vulnerable to HPV invasion. Gym locker rooms, swimming pools and other communal places are sites where people typically become infected. Wearing shower sandals or flip-flops while visiting such places is recommended to avoid contact with HPV.

Many people try to treat their mosaic and plantar warts by placing duct tape over the wart area. Duct tape occlusion therapy has not been proven as a sound treatment, and the reason for its possible effectiveness is not fully understood. Other home treatments include over-the-counter topical creams and the use of salicylic acid and other caustics. The mosaic warts’ size and penetration of the skin often render these treatments ineffective. These sorts of treatments can take weeks, or even months, to kill the warts.

A more reliable way to eliminate mosaic warts is cryotherapy, which involves placing liquid nitrogen directly on the wart plaque. This sort of treatment often is performed by doctors, although home cryotherapy kits can be found in drug stores. This sort of treatment must be continuous and aggressive to destroy these warts.

Another treatment option is surgery, which often proves successful but can leave behind painful scar tissue if the warts are removed from the feet. There also are high rates of wart recurrence within the scar tissue. The use of laser surgery to burn away mosaic warts has shown good results, although this sort of treatment often requires multiple visits to the doctor.

Doctors have also found that immunotherapy can help when treating mosaic warts. In this form of treatment, topical creams or injections help stimulate the body’s immune system to successfully destroy the wart-causing HPV virus. This sort of treatment is especially useful for patients whose immune systems have been compromised by diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis and AIDS.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon316108 — On Jan 27, 2013

I found two scientific evaluations on the use of fig sap to heal warts. Both used control (no treatment) groups, which is standard practice in medical research.

The first study is on humans: "Comparative study of fig tree efficacy in the treatment of common warts (Verruca vulgaris) vs. cryotherapy."

The second is on cows: "Therapeutic effects of fig tree latex on bovine papillomatosis."

Both studies reported that fig sap was a successful treatment for warts.

By anon316107 — On Jan 27, 2013

I used the milky sap from a fig tree, applied twice a day to the affected areas.

It took about five days and the warts were completely gone. The acid in the sap dissolved them. Previously I had tried duct tape, dandelion sap and a couple of other remedies that did not work.

Between applications of the fig sap, I soaked my hands in really hot water and soaped them with antiseptic hand wash. The sap oozes out from the stem of leaves when they are broken and from the stem at the base of the figs.

This was a very effective method for my warts. I had twenty or so on my fingers and they have all been removed.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

By anon237856 — On Dec 31, 2011

I used duct tape, and it got rid of a huge mosaic wart on my foot. I had a huge mosaic wart on the bottom of my left foot, it covered most of my heel and was starting up the outer side of my foot. The doctor wanted to "cut it out" or use some sort of drug that suppress my immune system. Otherwise, I am healthy, no other conditions such as diabetes etc.

Instead, I used the duct tape. Under the tape around the wart I put a thin layer of oil then covered the area with duct tape, changed it daily and gently shaved the area, every couple of days removing the dead skin. I watched carefully for sign of skin breakage or infection. I kept the duct tape it on at night and all day

Over a period of weeks the "warts" went away and have never come back.

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